GOP bills on individual mandate don't address pre-existing conditions

Senate Republicans will offer amendments to annual spending bills that would bar enforcement of the individual mandate, and the House is set to vote soon on a bill to delay the coverage requirement.

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The measures are a response to the White House's decision to delay the healthcare law's employer mandate. Republicans argue that if businesses get a break from the healthcare law, individuals should, too.

But they said their proposals to block the individual mandate would not eliminate guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions.

“None of these proposals would deal with the crux of pre-existing conditions," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said at a news conference Wednesday.

Requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and prohibiting them from charging higher premiums to sick patients are two of the most popular pieces of the Affordable Care Act.

But they would be unworkable without the individual mandate. The mandate was included to bring young, healthy people into the system, offsetting the increases in premiums that come from guaranteeing coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The issue vexed House Republicans as they prepared the Supreme Court to possibly strike down the individual mandate, and also caused a headache for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Romney did not propose a new way of guaranteeing coverage to people who have been denied insurance in the past.