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House again passes bill to change Affordable Care Act

FILE - House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this July 11, 2013 file photo. Boehner stood on the House floor Tuesday July 16, 2013 and ridiculed Democratic comments that the law has been "wonderful" for the country saying "The law isn't wonderful, it's a train wreck. You know it. I know it. And the American people know it. Even the president knows it. That's why he proposed delaying his mandate on employers." The House has scheduled votes Wednesday to delay the health care  law's individual and employer mandates, the 38th time the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or scale back the program since Republicans took control of the House in January 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

FILE - House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this July 11, 2013 file photo. Boehner stood on the House floor Tuesday July 16, 2013 and ridiculed Democratic comments that the law has been "wonderful" for the country saying "The law isn't wonderful, it's a train wreck. You know it. I know it. And the American people know it. Even the president knows it. That's why he proposed delaying his mandate on employers." The House has scheduled votes Wednesday to delay the health care law's individual and employer mandates, the 38th time the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or scale back the program since Republicans took control of the House in January 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Republican-controlled House yet again passed legislation yesterday that aims to change the Affordable Care Act. This time, Republicans called for one-year delays on two key provisions, one requiring nearly all Americans to buy health insurance and the other requiring businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to provide coverage.

The Obama administration has already delayed the requirement for businesses. President Obama plans to veto the House’s legislation, and Senate leaders have no plans to take similar action.

This marked the 38th and 39th times that the House has voted to repeal or change all or part of the landmark Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Many Republicans see this as an effort to counteract a flawed law that is unraveling. Many Democrats see it as grandstanding to please voters – and a complete waste of time.

“These bills are going nowhere,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said on the floor yesterday afternoon. “This is a game. This is political messaging. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Starting Jan. 1, the government will require most Americans to have health insurance. That was also supposed to be the start date for the government requiring businesses of a certain size to offer health benefits to employees who work at least 30 hours each week. Not doing so would result in a hefty per-employee fine.

This month, the White House gave those businesses another year to prepare. That also buys the government time to simplify the cost-reporting process that businesses will eventually use.

Democrats have downplayed the potential impact of this delay. White House spokesman Jay Carney has said that about 96 percent of employers already offer some form of health insurance. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has said the delay will not slow implementation of the new law.

But Republicans seized upon the delay, seeing it as yet another weakness in Obamacare. They introduced two bills: One called for a one-year delay for employers, the action that the administration has already taken. The second bill called for a one-year delay for individuals. Both passed yesterday, mostly along party lines.

The White House said in a statement that the first bill is “unnecessary” and the second would increase health insurance premiums and the number of uninsured people.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said last week that the administration’s planned delay is “unfair and indefensible.”

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