The House will vote next week on a bill to delay ObamaCare's individual mandate, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday. Republicans have launched a new offensive against the law, seizing on the delay of its employer mandate to argue that the entire law is unworkable.
“Is it fair for the president to give American businesses an exemption from his health law’s mandates, without giving the same break to the rest of America? Hell no, it’s not fair,” Boehner said. “Next week the House will vote to delay both the employer and individual mandate. It would be unfair to protect big business from ObamaCare but not individuals and families.”
The Hill has the story on next week's vote.
ObamaCare is still constitutional: A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the healthcare law's individual and employer mandates, and declined to rule on the provision requiring employers to include contraception in their workers' healthcare plans. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court was correct to dismiss the legal challenge filed by Liberty University.
he appeals court had initially declined to rule at all in the case, citing a law that bans lawsuits against taxes that haven't yet taken effect, but the Supreme Court ordered it to make a decision after upholding the law last year.
Healthwatch has more.
FreedomWorks: Don't buy health insurance: The conservative activist group FreedomWorks launched a new campaign Thursday urging young adults to "burn your ObamaCare draft card." Just as some young people burned their draft cards to avoid the prospect of dying in the Vietnam war, today's young people should refuse to buy healthcare coverage through newly created insurance exchanges, FreedomWorks said.
“It’s not against the law to ignore the mandate or to buy coverage that doesn’t fully conform to the law’s complicated and intrusive rules. The FreedomWorks ‘Burn Your ObamaCare Card’ campaign aims to resist the draft in good conscience, without risking jail time or significant fines,” FreedomWorks Vice President of Public Policy Dean Clancy said.
One more defunding bill: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) introduced legislation Thursday to prohibit all funding for ObamaCare, effectively killing the law. The lawmakers cast their bill, which received an endorsement from Heritage Action, as a response to the administration's employer mandate deferral.
"Businesses have their delay and the special interests have their waivers. Let’s not leave working families or anyone else on the tracks for this train wreck," Graves said in a statement.
While the legislation is unlikely to move in the Democratic-led Senate, its introduction came the same day that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) urged GOP colleagues not to support a government funding bill that includes money for the Affordable Care Act. The remarks could portend a showdown over the law's funding as the fiscal year winds down.
“As we get to this continuing resolution debate, I believe that we should not vote [for] nor pass a continuing resolution unless that continuing resolution defunds ObamaCare,” Rubio said at a breakfast at Charlie Palmer steakhouse.
Read about his comments at The Hill.
Heating up: Planned Parenthood and abortion-rights opponents held competing events Thursday as abortion restrictions claimed more headlines in Texas and North Carolina. Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards spoke on the grounds of the Capitol, urging supporters to rise up against attempts to curb abortion rights. In Maryland, opponents of abortion rights held a press conference at a clinic where they say women routinely receive unsafe care.
The events came as a new HuffPost/YouGov poll found strong support for federal legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In the same survey, six in 10 backed the statement that "decisions on abortion should be made by a woman and her doctor." In another question, a plurality, 49 percent, said abortion is "morally wrong."
Read more about the poll here.
Voted down: Senate Democrats on Thursday warded off five GOP attempts to thwart ObamaCare in an appropriations bill. Amendments offered by Republicans during a markup would have delayed the employer and individual mandates, rescinded funds for the insurance exchanges and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and stopped the exchanges if they face technical glitches on Oct. 1. All five measures were defeated on party-line votes except for the measure on IPAB, which Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) supported.
The final Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education appropriations bill for fiscal 2014 spends about $164 billion total. It passed 16-14, with all Republicans opposed — a stark contrast to the panel's transportation, agriculture, veterans affairs and energy titles, which garnered bipartisan support.
The Labor-HHS spending bill received praise from health advocates on Thursday, including American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network and the American Public Health Association (APHA).
“We are grateful to the Senate Appropriations Committee for supporting programs that emphasize disease prevention and recognizing the significant return on investment they can deliver to communities across the country,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin in a statement.
Read more of our coverage of the mark-up at Healthwatch.
State by state
Texas House passes contentious abortion bill
Fla. Senate president sees Medicaid opportunity in mandate delay
Educating Fla. about healthcare reform starts with conversation
Da Vinci Group / Good Health
Capitol Hill Consulting Group / Huntsville Hospital
Liz Williams and Company / VGM Group
Polsinelli PC / Alliance for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
FaegreBD Consulting / Maxim Healthcare Services
Van Scoyoc Associates / National Safety Council
Venn Strategies / Managed Health Care Associates
Venn Strategies / Senior Care Pharmacy Alliance
Former insurance exec offers an insider's look at ObamaCare
Q&A on the battle of the mandates
WellPoint fined $1.7 million for exposing health data on Internet
Youth homicide rate hits lowest mark in 30 years
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—This post was changed Friday to reflect that the Susan B. Anthony List did not hold Thursday's press event in Maryland, with other updates.