Senate GOP begins push to delay and defund ObamaCare

Senate Republicans said Wednesday that they would seek to delay and defund key provisions of ObamaCare through the appropriations process.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said he plans to offer several anti-ObamaCare amendments on Thursday, when the Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to take up its annual spending bill for the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department.

Moran said he will offer amendments prohibiting HHS from enforcing the healthcare law's individual mandate, which requires most taxpayers to buy insurance or pay a penalty, as well as the mandate requiring large employers to offer coverage.

“Delaying the impact of the business mandate ought to be accompanied by a delay in the individual mandate," Moran said at a news conference Wednesday.

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Democrats are unlikely to support a delay in the individual mandate, which would cripple the effort to have ObamaCare's central provisions in place by the beginning of 2014.

But forcing votes on the delay could bolster the GOP's charge that the administration is using a double standard — giving a break to big business but not to individuals.

“Rather than a partial delay for some, America needs a permanent delay for all," Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said.

Republicans have intensified their attacks on the healthcare law since the Obama administration delayed the employer mandate, giving businesses an extra year before they would face penalties for not providing healthcare coverage to their full-time workers.

“The law is unraveling, and one of the threads to that was the delay," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said.

Republicans said the administration played politics with the delay, which pushed the employer mandate into 2015 — past the 2014 midterm elections.

“If this is such a good thing, why not let people know about it before the election, not after? … They obviously don’t think people are going to like this once they see it," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said.

The House is expected to vote soon on bills that would delay the individual mandate, as well as a measure to formally delay the mandate on employers.

In addition to bills denying funding for enforcement of the individual and employer mandates, Moran said he would offer an amendment denying funding to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a Medicare cost-control panel created under the healthcare law — "the so-called death panel," as Moran put it.

He also will propose cutting off funding for federally run insurance exchanges.