KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GOP Seeks Legislative Means To Insist That Individual Mandate Is Not A ‘Tax’

House GOP lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday in an attempt to get around the high court's recent ruling that the health law is constitutional because its requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty falls within Congress' taxing authority. The proposed legislation says the mandate "shall not be construed as a tax."

The Hill: New GOP Bill Would Clarify That Health Care Mandate Is Not A Tax
House Republicans proposed a bill Thursday to clarify that the individual mandate in the 2010 healthcare law, and associated penalties for not buying health insurance, "shall not be construed as a tax." The bill is an attempt to get around the Supreme Court's June decision that the mandate and its penalties can be seen as constitutional when viewed as a tax. That ruling infuriated Republicans, who have since sought to cast the health law as a giant tax hike that violates President Obama's pledge not to impose any taxes on the middle class (Kasperowicz, 8/3).

Meanwhile, Catholic officials are urging Congress to roll back the health law's birth control coverage mandate -

The Hill: Catholic Church Implores Congress To Overturn Obama Birth-Control Mandate
The U.S. Catholic church is imploring Congress to pass legislation overturning the Obama administration's birth-control mandate. The policy, which took effect on Wednesday, requires most employers to cover contraception in their healthcare plans without a co-pay. The mandate has been challenged extensively in court. Twenty-five lawsuits have been filed against it so far, mostly by groups who object to birth control or consider some forms of it to be abortion. But that litigation "may take years," Cardinal Daniel DiNardo warned in a letter to members of Congress. He said lawmakers should act against the mandate "before it completes its business this year" (8/5).

Politico Pro: Bishops To Hill: Act On Birth Control Policy
Catholic bishops on Friday asked Congress — which has just begun a five week summer recess — to address the Obama administration's contraceptives policy quickly, criticizing Congressional leaders for not doing anything as the policy goes into effect. "I am writing again on this subject because, despite widespread opposition to this coercive policy… Congress has still taken no action to counter it," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote in a letter to Capitol Hill. "The time for such action is, to say the least, overdue" (Haberkorn, 8/3).

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