House Democrats joined Republicans on Tuesday to pass legislation that would expand an exemption under ObamaCare for people who don’t want health insurance for religious reasons.
The Republican House has passed dozens of bills to chip away at ObamaCare over the last few years, some of which had support from more than 30 Democrats. But the bill up today was considered under a suspension of the rules, which meant that support from about 50 Democrats was needed in order for the bills to pass with a two-thirds majority vote.
Its easy passage by voice vote sets up the possibility that it could be considered by the Senate, unlike the dozens of other bills that were mostly supported by Republicans and then ignored by Senate Democrats.
Members approved the Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act, H.R. 1814. The bill would let people avoid buying health insurance under ObamaCare if they could cite a religious reason.
People seeking an exemption would have to include sworn statements in their tax returns explaining their objection to health insurance.
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who sponsored the bill, said ObamaCare currently exempts only those people who are part of a major religion, which leaves no room for others who also believe they must be exempted.
“Today’s bill must become law,” he said. “Among the many problems with the Affordable Care Act, the current conscience exemption only protects religious exemptions of a few select faiths.”
Democrats said they worry the IRS would not be able to enforce the new language. House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said the IRS would have to define what a “sincerely held religious belief” is and enforce these exemptions.
“This is impossibly difficult to enforce, and frankly, it is not a role we want the IRS to take on,” Waxman said.
The bill says anyone who gets a religious exemption and then seeks medical treatment would have their exemption revoked. But Waxman said the IRS would have no way of monitoring people who later decide to seek treatment.
SOURCE: Pete Kasperowicz