House Republicans’ attempts to stay the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate continued yesterday as they argued for a contentious bill that would delay implementation of penalties for failing to comply with the health insurance mandate.

The House Committee on Rules reports that H.R. Bill 4118, first introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and 15 other co-sponsors last month, received a closed rule vote, a measure that forbids amendments to the legislation going forward. The committee – which contains four democrats and nine republicans – includes Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-N.Y.) as its ranking member, with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) as chairman. As a result of Tuesday's vote, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means; it may also be considered on the House floor this week, according to the congressional schedule.

According to a White House statement, the bill’s passage “would increase health insurance premiums, decrease tax credits, increase the number of uninsured, and shift costs to businesses.” The administration lists that the repeal is something that the House “has tried to do approximately 50 times.”

“Repealing this part of the law would also result in higher premiums for those who remain insured, fewer premium tax credits for middle-income families, and increased cost-shifting of uncompensated care to health care providers, workers and businesses,” the administration says in the March 4 statement.

In a complementary report, the Congressional Budget Office said in a March 4 cost estimate that enacting H.R. 4118 would reduce federal deficits by $10 billion over the 2014-2019 period and by roughly $9 billion over the 2014-2024 period. The joint estimate from the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation list people who do not comply will be required to pay $95 in 2014 and $695 in 2016.

“The effects of H.R. 4118 in 2014 would be less than they would be if the legislation had been enacted before October 2013 when the open enrollment period for obtaining health insurance through exchanges began,” the report states. “In particular, CBO and JCT anticipate that some people who would not have signed up for health insurance coverage without the mandate will keep coverage for which they will have signed up by the time the penalty would be removed.”

At the time of the bill’s filing, Congresswoman Jenkins lists that the “Simple Fairness Act” will offer a one-year delay on the individual mandate tax that would offer relief to expected penalties under the ACA.

“This legislation is about fairness, as it would authorize the same delay for individual Americans that the President keeps giving to businesses,” Jenkins said Feb. 28.

Last month, the Internal Revenue Service, along with the Department of Treasury, disclosed that employers with fewer than 100 employees were granted a one-year exemption from providing insurance on Jan. 1, 2015. These companies are still required to report their workers and coverage next year, but will have until 2016 to pay for affordable health insurance for their full-time workforce. The employer mandate delay was widely debated by employee benefit researchers and benefit industry decision-makers, with many other organizations announcing they were planning to take action to address the law.

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