Friday: ObamaCare mandate and the doc fix

The House starts at 9 a.m., and before noon it will pass legislation to delay ObamaCare's individual mandate for five years.

The bill is the latest Republican attempt to undermine the health law by attaching language to a "must-pass" bill. In this case, the "must-pass" bill is legislation to avoid pending cuts to the reimbursement rate of Medicare physicians, or another "doc fix."

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Legislation up today is H.R. 4015, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act. It repeals the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that creates cuts the Congress has dodged anyway for years — the repeal costs $138 billion.

To pay that cost, the bill delays enforcement of the individual mandate. The Congressional Budget Office says that delay saves $170 billion.

Democrats liked the SGR repeal bill, but don't like the GOP addition of the mandate delay. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill, and some Democrats predicted on Thursday that Congress will have to revisit the doc fix issue later this month, after the Senate rejects today's House bill.

Without an agreement in Congress, the physician reimbursement rate would be cut starting April 1.

After today's vote, the House and Senate are out until the last full week of March, which gives them just days to find some way around the impasse.