February 6, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 37

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February 03, 2023

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House Votes to Defund Affordable Care Act at Critical Juncture

In the latest display of contention over the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 20, 2013 voted 230-to-189 along partisan lines to defund the 2010 health reform law.

Since passage of the ACA, factions within Congress led primarily by Republicans have attempted dozens of times to repeal the law. None of these efforts, however, have yet succeeded. The latest effort by the House is similarly expected to fail given Democratic control of the Senate and the White House.

Nevertheless, the defunding measure, which the House passed as part of a joint resolution to fund the federal government for the 2014 fiscal year, has gained considerable attention because of its timing. On Sept. 30, 2013, the current federal budget will expire. If Congress does not pass a budget by then, beginning on Oct. 1, 2013, large segments of the federal government could shut down for the first time since Congress last reached a budget impasse in the mid-1990s.

Oct. 1, 2013 is also an important date for the implementation of the ACA. On that date, the open enrollment period begins in the health insurance exchanges created by the law, where individuals can compare and shop for private health coverage options. Coverage for plans on the exchanges will begin on Jan. 1, 2014, when several other major reforms under the ACA take effect, including the “individual mandate” requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance if they do not already have it.

Despite the unlikely passage of the House budget legislation in its current form, Congress could continue to debate funding and implementation of the ACA over the next several weeks. As it deliberates a budget for the next year, Congress also must consider whether to increase the debt limit to allow the federal government to borrow money past mid-October to pay its existing financial obligations. Republicans have indicated that they may seek to delay the ACA or at least certain components of the law, such as the individual mandate, as a condition to increasing the debt limit, which, if not increased, could result in the federal government defaulting on its debts.

© 2023 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume III, Number 267

About this Author

Heather Delgado Healthcare Attorney

Healthcare providers depend upon Heather Delgado for her commitment to responsiveness and practical legal advice. Heather focuses on finding the right solution for her clients. She is valued for her ability to overcome the obstacles her clients face and for her skill in applying complex laws and regulations to their business practices.

Heather’s experience includes the representation of healthcare providers, including hospitals, health systems, specialty hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, multi- and single-specialty medical practices, and a wide variety of healthcare...

Gayland Hethcoat, Health care Attorney, Barnes Thornburg, Law firm
Staff Attorney

Gayland O. Hethcoat II is a staff attorney in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Chicago, Ill., office and a member of the Health Care Department. Prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg, Mr. Hethcoat served as a law clerk for McDermott Will & Emery in Miami, Fla., where he focused on matters affecting health insurers and care providers. Mr. Hethcoat also served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Leslie B. Rothenberg of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal.