GOP delays bid to highlight health law inadequacies
WASHINGTON — An effort by House Republicans to highlight problems with President Obama's health care law by bailing out a program for people with pre-existing medical conditions appeared to backfire on Wednesday.
GOP leaders postponed a scheduled vote after the measure met strong opposition from two directions — from conservative groups resistant to any federal role in health care; and from Democrats who objected that the Republicans planned to pay for the high-risk patient program by raiding a disease-prevention provision that the administration says is essential to the overhaul.
A departure from the GOP efforts to kill the Affordable Health Care Act outright, the legislation faces a White House veto threat.
Erica Elliott, spokeswoman for Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, said in a statement: “We had good conversations with our members and made a lot of solid progress” on the bill. But she said there is “still work to do,” and with members leaving for the Bush Presidential Library dedication, “we'll continue the conversations” when the House returns in May.
The GOP bill would provide up to $3.6 billion to shore up the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, or PCIP — which is intended to be a stopgap measure for uninsured, high-risk patients — until the end of the year, when full consumer protections under the health care act go into effect.
Under the plan, those who have been uninsured for six months would be subsidized so that they could buy insurance at average rates. The original goal was for the plan to reach more than 300,000 before it disappeared at the end of this year. The program's costs were higher than anticipated, however, and it enrolled slightly more than 100,000 before the administration announced in February that it would stop taking new applications.
Republicans, who in the past session of Congress tried several dozen times to dismantle the law, sought to use their new “Helping Sick Americans Now Act” to point out defects in the pre-existing conditions program.
The bill, said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, is a “needed piece of relief for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who were promised by their president that they would be covered under the Affordable Care Act's Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan and then were told as of Feb. 1 of this year, ‘Sorry, we're closed.' ”
The money for the plan would come from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a provision of the health care law that the GOP has assailed as a slush fund for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Republicans are also critical of the use of some $300 million from that fund to publicize the new health insurance markets coming this fall under the health care law.
“We want to stop Obamacare and that's why we're going to the fund, the slush fund, that Secretary Sebelius is using for the implementation of the bill,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said.
The White House, in its veto threat, said the legislation would effectively eliminate funding for three years for a program that “supports critical investments such as tobacco use reduction and programs to reduce health-care-associated infections and the national burden of chronic disease.”
Health and Human Services, in its breakdown of the prevention program, said that among its allocations in 2012 were $91 million for immunization, $60 million for tobacco use prevention and $146 million to support community-level efforts to reduce chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ferguson slaying of Brown reconstructed in county autopsy
- Man caught jumping White House fence
- Coast Guard to seek billions to protect Arctic interests
- 4 private security guards convicted
- Security at Capitol questioned
- Biden’s son Hunter under no bar review after Navy Reserve discharge for cocaine use
- Coburn’s final ‘Wastebook’ tallies $25B in what he considers ‘pork’
- Social Security recipients to get increase in benefits
- Academic scandal at University of North Carolina bigger than previously reported
- 8 arrested in post-game riots in Morgantown
- Personal use of Secret Service agents on staffer’s behalf draws investigaton