Affordable Care Act is subject of first bill pre-filed for the 2017 Louisiana legislative session

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State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington.
  • State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington.
State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, in a bill filed almost three months prior to the 2017 general legislative session, is seeking an exemption for Louisiana residents from Affordable Care Act (ACA) noncompliance penalties.

The filing of House Bill 6 came shortly after President Donald Trump signed a similar executive order on Inauguration Day, mandating ACA-related federal departments and agencies waive provisions imposing a financial burden on states or individuals.

In his order, Trump said the aim was to “minimize unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act” pending its repeal by Congress.

One of the burdens both Trump and Hollis referred to is the individual shared responsibility payment, which requires individuals capable of purchasing health insurance to pay for each month they or their immediate family members are uninsured.

The penalty is assessed by the IRS during the individual’s annual tax filing and equals either 2.5 percent of their household income or an individual assessment of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child in the household, whichever amount is greater. Each option includes a maximum cap.

Hollis long hasbeen opposed to the ACA, or Obamacare. He’s authored seven previous bills aiming to oppose or delay components of the ACA rollout in Louisiana since taking office in 2011, including six during the 2014 regular session alone.

In 2013, Hollis authored House Bill 429, which proposed a constitutional amendment calling for the prohibition of mandatory participation in a health care system. That measure was defeated in the House chamber by a 54-41 margin.

Hollis said he was heartened when Trump indicated that more autonomy be given to states regarding healthcare implementation, and decided it was important the 2017 Legislature, which convenes April 10, have a say.

Hollis considers federal involvement in the state and the effects of Obamacare mandates a top issue plaguing Louisiana. Requiring people to purchase a product and penalizing them for failure to comply is one of the bill’s most objectionable aspects, he said.

“It’s beyond the scope of what government should be. What makes it even more unsavory is that there were all these grand promises and I just don’t know of any of them that have been fulfilled.”

Hollis said he is optimistic the bill will succeed, given the Republican dominance in the composition of the House and Senate committees which will consider HB 6, and anticipates it will be handled early in the session. He hopes that a strong showing of support in the Legislature would persuade Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards to sign the bill into law.

One of Edwards’s first actions after taking office was to authorize the state’s Medicaid expansion program under the ACA, extending health care coverage to more than 375,000 Louisianans.

Edwards, a Democrat, has defended the success of the state’s Medicaid expansion, but also hassaid he is ready to work with Congress on altering broken aspects of the ACA while maintaining functioning programs.

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