House Republican leaders on Tuesday demanded more information from the Obama administration about its decision to delay by one year the healthcare law's employer mandate. [WATCH VIDEO]
Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and the rest of the House GOP leadership team want the administration to explain the legality of the delay, and provide an analysis of how many people will likely move into the law's insurance exchanges as a result, and any changes in federal spending that would stem from the delay.
"Many have predicted the problems that your Administration now acknowledges, and each provision you delay continues to demonstrate that the entire law is unworkable," they wrote in a letter.
The delay in the employer mandate has provided new fuel for GOP criticism of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans note that while employers got a one-year reprieve from their coverage requirements, the law's individual mandate remains in place.
"We agree with you that the burden was overwhelming for employers, but we also believe American families need the same relief," the GOP leaders wrote.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who signed Tuesday's letter, has also asked the Congressional Budget Office for a new cost estimate of the healthcare law, taking into account the delayed mandate.
The Republican leaders voiced outrage at the administration’s decision, but they also see new political momentum to unravel the polarizing 2010 law, which had seemed on solid footing earlier this year after the reelection of President Obama and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold one of its central provisions.
Republicans seized on a populist reading of the decision, arguing that the White House was giving a break to big business at the expense of individuals.
“I think what the president did was outrageous,” Boehner said at a Capitol press conference. “The idea that we’re going to give big businesses a break under ObamaCare but we’re going to punish small businesses and families? It’s wrong, and we’ll have another vote. Count on it.”
While the GOP has pushed for a full repeal of the law, the party now wants at least an equal delay in the individual mandate, and it could push for that concession during negotiations over raising the debt ceiling later this year.
- Russell Berman contributed. Updated at 11:52 a.m.