Should the Health Care Individual Mandate Be Delayed?

Should a central part of the Affordable Care Act get punted down the road?

John Boehner
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The House of Representatives Wednesday passed two bills that would delay implementation of both the individual and employer mandates of the Affordable Care Act. After the Obama administration announced it would give businesses another year to comply with the requirements of the law, House Republicans argued that individual Americans deserved the same treatment.

Both bills passed the House with all Republicans – save one – and 22 Democrats voting in favor of the delays. These votes amount to the 38th and 39th times the GOP has attempted to repeal parts of the law it calls expensive, complicated and an overreach of the government. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio., said the bills were designed to ensure individual citizens are allowed the same "reprieve from ObamaCare's mandates" that businesses are.

"There's no fairness when big businesses in this country are getting an exemption from the ObamaCare mandates, but American families aren't," Boehner said. "How can the president say he's looking out for average Americans when he threatens to veto measures of basic fairness? I think it's appalling."

[ See a collection of political cartoons on health care.]

President Barack Obama announced earlier this month that he was delaying implementation of the employer mandate, which requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance coverage, until 2015. He said the administration was responding to concerns voiced by businesses that compliance and reporting requirements were too confusing.

In a speech Thursday, Obama expressed exasperation with House Republicans for wasting time voting to dismantle the law. He said that the individual mandate would reduce costs for families because insurance companies would have to compete for their business in the new online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. The president cited state officials in New York, who said that buyers of insurance from those exchanges would pay premiums 50 percent lower than they do now:

So if you already buy insurance on the individual market, meaning that you don't get insurance through a big group plan through your employer, that could mean thousands of dollars a year that can go towards paying a mortgage, or putting a kid through college, or saving for retirement. 

So this is just an example of how the Affordable Care Act is doing what it's designed to do: deliver more choices, better benefits, a check on rising costs, and higher quality care. 

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

What do you think? Should the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act be delayed? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.