House Speaker Thom Tillis effectively punted Wednesday on a tough political issue, saying he would form a study commission to further study the issue of health insurance mandates.
A week ago, Republican lawmakers reached an impass on a measure to limit the Affordable Care Act after concerns that it would kill a bill to require health insurance coverage for certain autism treatments, a provision in another bill awaiting Senate action.
Speaking to a National Federation of Independent Business luncheon a block from the statehouse, Tillis said he will ask House members to study the broader mandate issue at more length once session ends.
A spokeswoman said more details were not available. But the move suggests the legislation stuck in House and Senate negotiations isn’t likely to emerge this session.
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The measure holds dual implications for Tillis, as the Republican speaker and U.S. Senate candidate.
Tillis supports the autism mandate approved by the House in 2013 and wore an Autism Speaks organization pin prominently in the Republican primary.
But he also is trying to make his opposition federal health care law and its mandates a centerpiece in his campaign. His opponent Democrat Kay Hagan touts the law’s requirements to cover pre-existing conditions, womens services and prohibit lifetime caps.
“I look at any consideration for insurance mandates the same way I would look at an incentive,” Tillis told the NFIB crowd. “I’m neither for all incentives nor against them. I’m neither for all mandates nor against them. Let’s take a look at the economic benefit.”
His campaign would not specifically respond to questions about what mandates in the federal health care law he supports. He has advocated for the repeal of the bill but not entirely endorsed a replacement.
“Speaker Tillis believes that the ACA should be repealed,” campaign manager Jordan Shaw said in a statement. “Once that is accomplished, specific mandates should be looked at on an individual, case-by-case basis to determine their business case for improving outcomes, increasing access, and driving down costs.”
Tillis also made clear he hoped the legislative session would be a short one, adjourning “a day in June.”
“Every day we are in session it costs $50,000 -- that’s a teacher salary,” he said. “It’s actually almost 1 1/2 (starting) teachers.”