This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) prohibiting federal funds from being used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to impose penalties on Americans who had not obtained health insurance—which they were required to do under the 2010 health care reform law that was supported by President Obama and expanded health insurance coverage to nearly all Americans.. This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
Emerson urged support for her amendment: “This is the bright lights example of what's wrong with the health care law. It compels Americans to give up their freedoms, to render their choices, and part with their hard-earned money to support a system of health care designed by and run by the federal government…No Americans should be forced to buy or purchase health insurance they neither want nor can afford, and the federal government has never based the purchase of a good or service as a condition of being a law-abiding citizen. The American people need some form of protection that the IRS will not begin to aggressively implement the individual mandate, and this measure ensures that it won't be implemented prior to the end of fiscal year 2011.”
(The healthcare reform measure that Republicans sought to derail was strongly supported by President Obama, and he signed it into law in March 2010. The law (which Republicans derided as “ObamaCare”) imposed a requirement that most Americans have health insurance—a provision known as the “individual mandate”—and was estimated to expand insurance coverage to 95% of the U.S. population. Employers with more than 50 workers were required to provide health insurance for their employees. The measure added 15 million people to the Medicaid rolls, and subsidized the purchase of private health insurance coverage for low- and middle-income people. In addition, the health care law imposed a 40% tax on high-cost insurance plans -- or those plans that are worth more than $27,500 for families, and $10,200 for individuals.)
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) opposed the amendment: “…The gentlewoman's amendment…is going to completely eliminate implementation of the health care reform because the bottom line is that, if this amendment were to pass, then all of the positive things that have already gone into place in terms of eliminating discrimination against preexisting conditions or the other discriminatory practices…all of these things essentially depend on the mandate, because without the mandate, what happens is that insurance companies go back, again, to discriminatory practices. This is nothing more but an effort essentially to eliminate the health care reform….And we all know, it's absolutely clear, that without the mandate, it is going to be impossible to carry out the coverage and the implementation of these important provisions that eliminate discrimination.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 246-182. All 238 Republicans present and 8 Democrats voted “yea.” 182 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to impose penalties on Americans who had not obtained health insurance.