By Jessica Jeane
The House on September 27 approved on the CO-OP Consumer Protection Bill of 2016 (HR 954) by a 258-to-165 vote. The legislation would exempt certain individuals from the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) individual shared responsibility requirement, also known as the individual mandate. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the measure on September 8.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., heads to the Senate for consideration. If enacted, certain individuals who had coverage under a terminated qualified health plan funded through the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO–OP) program may be eligible for an exemption from the individual mandate.
JCT. Individuals are required under the ACA to maintain minimum essential coverage or make a shared responsibility payment, unless exempt, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) noted in its report on the measure (JCX-69-16). Exemptions under the ACA are available Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and other types of coverage. The House bill would expand the roster of exemptions to include individuals affected by CO-OP terminations.
Senate. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., recently introduced Sen 3311, the Senate companion bill of HR 954. "I’m grateful for Congressman Smith’s work in the House and I’m proud to join that effort by introducing this bill in the Senate," Sasse said in a statement.
Veto expected. If presented with HR 954, President Obama would veto the bill, according to a Statement of Administration Policy released on September 27. "Weakening the individual responsibility provision would increase health insurance premiums and decrease the number of Americans with coverage," the administration noted in opposition of the bill.
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