House votes to delay Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty


McClatchy Washington Bureau

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to delay the Affordable Care Act’s penalty on individuals who fail to sign up for health insurance.

President Barack Obama vowed to veto the bill, which would suspend the healthcare law’s fine of $95 or 1 percent of taxable income imposed on Americans who don’t purchase insurance policies for 2014. Next year, the penalty is slated to go up to $325, or 2 percent of taxable income.

Proposed by Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, the Simple Fairness Act passed 250-160, with 27 Democrats voting in favor of the measure.

The last time the House voted on a bill dealing with the individual mandate, 22 Democrats voted against it, Jenkins said.

“I am pleased that 27 House Democrats joined with House Republicans to listen, and provide relief and fairness to all middle-class families through the legislative process whether or not the president approves,” she said in a statement after Wednesday’s vote.

Some Democrats who face tough campaigns in this fall’s midterm elections have been distancing themselves from Obamacare – or indicating an increased willingness to modify it – after the law’s rocky roll-out in October, including a glitch-filled debut of federal and state healthcare websites.

Despite the Democratic defections, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed Wednesday’s vote as a waste of time, and pointed out that it marked the 50th time the Republican-led House of Representatives had voted fruitlessly to alter or repeal Obamacare.

“The House Republican agenda feels like déjà vu all over again,” Pelosi said in a statement. “As if the first 49 votes were not enough to satisfy the Republican fixation on undoing health reform, the Republican leadership is prepared to make yet another attempt – their 50th try – to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act. Americans deserve better.”

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