House Republicans followed up on the Obama administration's decision to delay the implementation of the employer mandate for one year by voting to make that decision a law, and to extend that delay to all individuals, too. It's a more limited protest vote than what we're used to seeing from the House GOP on Obamacare: There have been 38 legislative attempts to revoke either all or part of the health care reform law since 2011.
On Wednesday, both votes to delay passed easily: 264 - 161 for the employer mandate, and 251 - 174 for the individual mandate. They will not become law: President Obama would veto both bills if they made it to his desk. The first bill, on the employer mandate, is "unnecessary," he said. And the second is off the table for the administration. In any case, House Republicans can now brag about taking a stand against the health care reform law again on Twitter:
Happy House passed fair #Obamacare delays 2night (w Dem support!) - if it isn't good enough for biz it isn't good enough for YOU— Rep. Trey Radel (@treyradel) July 17, 2013
As we explained earlier today, the employer mandate and the individual mandate weren't exactly created equal: the former has been the subject of pretty wide criticism, and the Obama administration's decision to delay its implementation speaks to how problematic it's been to move forward on it, something the administration figured out months ago.
With the exception of the employer mandate, it looks like the administration is running on schedule for implementation of other parts of the massive reform law. Healthcare exchanges are expected to go online on October 1, and small businesses can still use the exchanges to purchase employee health insurance. Meanwhile, there's been some good news for the cost of insurance for individuals under Obamacare from New York and California recently, but it's still possible that the employer mandate delay will have the effect of raising the cost of Obamacare implementation overall. For now, at least, the administration is focusing on one of the major variables that needs to come together for the reform to work: getting enough young, healthy Americans to sign in to the exchanges.