By Jason Bramwell
Before leaving for its August recess, the US House of Representatives on August 2 passed a bill that would prohibit the IRS from implementing or enforcing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The legislation, HR 2009, also known as Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013, was supported mostly by House Republicans in a 232 to 185 vote. Four Democratic lawmakers – John Barrow (GA), Mike McIntyre (NC), Collin Peterson (MN), and Jim Matheson (UT) – voted for the bill. However, the legislation is not expected to advance through the Democratic-controlled Senate.
During a press briefing on August 5, Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated that the Affordable Care Act remains a high priority for President Obama.
"As others have engaged in repeated attempts – futile attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act – I think the House has just had its fortieth vote along those lines - the administration is focused on implementing a law that was passed by Congress, signed into law by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States", he said. "It would be wonderful if Congress would focus on assisting in that implementation because everyone's constituents, no matter what state you're from or what district you represent, stands to benefit from the greater access to insurance that the Affordable Care Act provides."
Because of the recent IRS scandal in which the agency admitted to improperly scrutinizing the federal tax-exempt status of conservative groups like the Tea Party, House Republicans, including Congressman Dr. Tom Price (R-GA), who introduced the legislation, said they are concerned about the IRS' ability to fairly implement and enforce Obamacare.
"[The IRS] has abused its authority by targeting individuals and organizations", Price said in a written statement. Before being elected to public office, Price worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon for twenty years. "There's no reason to trust this massive agency with one of the most personal aspects of our lives – our health care. Instead, we ought to be empowering individuals and families to make their own health care decisions."
In a written statement, Congressman Steve King (R-IA) added",The Obama administration's attempts to label the recent IRS scandals as phony are dishonest and dangerous. The role of the IRS will expand even more as Obamacare is implemented; nearly fifty different aspects of Obamacare are now regulated by the IRS. This expansion of power comes as details are unfolding that the IRS has abused the American people's trust. The IRS is transitioning to new leadership, and recent polls have shown that the majority of Americans have a negative opinion of the agency. Now is not the time to put Washington bureaucrats in charge of your health care."
During her remarks on the House floor, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urged Republicans to focus their time on creating jobs and growing the economy instead of attempting to repeal Obamacare for the fortieth time.
"Forty is a number that is fraught with meaning in the Bible: forty hours, forty days, forty years in the desert. But it's fraught with nothing when it comes to overturning the Affordable Care Act as they are trying to do for the fortieth time today", she said. "When our Republican colleagues vote for this bill, they will vote to put insurance companies back in charge of people's health. When they vote for this bill, they will be voting for an initiative that deprives patients of their rights, of making a preexisting condition a reason for discrimination. That's what a vote for this does."