In the latest salvo against President Obama’s health care law, the House of Representatives plans next week to vote on a bill to delay the individual mandate for a year.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., introduced the bill, the Simple Fairness Act, on Friday.
Under the health care law, Americans who don’t purchase government-approved insurance policies face a fine of $95, or 1 percent of taxable income, for 2014. In 2015, the fine is scheduled to increase to $325, or 2 percent of taxable income.
The new bill would effectively push back that implementation timeline for a year, by setting the fine at $0 for 2014 and then reducing the 2015 fine to $95 (the current 2014 level).
The move is part of an effort by Republicans to make an issue of Obamacare during the 2014 midterm elections, by putting Democrats in the position of either defying the administration or voicing support for one of the most unpopular provisions in the health care law.
Delaying the individual mandate has added populist appeal given that the Obama administration has already acted to delay the mandate on employers.
“The President recently issued another delay to unilaterally change his own law, a delay that protected businesses from the employer mandate tax,” Jenkins, who serves as vice chair of the House Republican Conference, said in an emailed statement. “It is not fair to give relief to businesses with big checkbooks, yet not help hard working families with relief from these unaffordable mandates.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office confirmed that the chamber would vote on the plan next week.
The vote comes at a time when the Obama administration is making its final push to get younger and healthier Americans to buy insurance ahead of the March 31 open enrollment deadline.