District of Columbia: House Republicans, once champions of "local control", try to prevent individual mandate reinstatement

Less than one month ago:

...back in February...the executive board of the DC ACA exchange unanimously voted to reinstate the mandate. It didn't mean all that much at the time, however, because the authority to reinstate it actually belongs to the DC Council.

Well, thanks to Mr. Levitis for the heads up. If you scroll down to Page 138, you can see that the DC Council has indeed done just that:


Sec. 5001. Short title.
This subtitle may be cited as the “Health Insurance Requirement Amendment Act of 2018”.

Sec. 5002. Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code is amended as follows:
(a) The table of contents is amended by adding a new chapter designation to read as follows:
“51. Individual Taxpayer Health Insurance Responsibility Requirement”.
(b) A new Chapter 51 is added to read as follows:

...“(c) Money in the Fund shall be used to:
“(1) Engage in outreach to uninsured District residents to increase health insurance coverage;
“(2) Provide information to District residents on options for health insurance coverage; and
“(3) Engage in activities that increase the availability of health insurance options or increase the affordability of insurance premiums in the individual health insurance market, for District residents.
“(d)(1) The money deposited into the Fund shall not revert to the unrestricted fund balance of the General Fund of the District of Columbia at the end of a fiscal year, or at any other time.
“(2) Subject to authorization in an approved budget and financial plan, any funds appropriated in the Fund shall be continually available without regard to fiscal year limitation.

Anderson's read of this, which sounds accurate to me, is that this would also authorize the DC Council and/or DC ACA exchange to use the funds for either additional direct subsidies (hopefully targeted towards those earning more than 400% FPL!) or a reinsurance program, like New Jersey intends to do. Between the two, my guess is that they'd go with direct subsidies, which I'd imagine would be easier to put in place since I don't think they require a federal waiver approval, as opposed to reinsurance which does.

The Washington Post, today:

House Republicans passed two measures Thursday that would block the District from requiring that all residents have health insurance, opening a new front in congressional efforts to rein in the city’s government.

In addition to measures targeting D.C.’s version of the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers passed restrictions against using local funding to help low-income women obtain abortions, to commercialize recreational marijuana and to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives.

All told, the spending bill includes seven attempts to override the will of local elected officials — the most in at least a decade.

The provisions must clear several legislative hurdles, and city officials said they will lean on their allies in the Senate to stop that from happening.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said the heavily Democratic nation’s capital will continue to be vulnerable to similar attacks as long as its laws and finances remain under the thumb of the GOP-controlled Congress.

If and when Democrats do retake the reins of the federal government, one of the first orders of business must be to finally grant DC full statehood.