04.25.2013 0

Republicans pull bill that bails out Obamacare program

ObamaCareIn an unusual move, on April 24, Republican leadership pulled legislation from the floor of the House of Representatives that would have taken $3.6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund in Obamacare, and used it to bail out the preexisting conditions insurance plan.

In spite of having lower than expected enrollment, the preexisting conditions program has been overrun with costs. Rather than increasing funding, the House should use their Constitutional power of the purse to defund it entirely.

The program was originally designed for 300,000 people, but the cost overruns forced the Obama administration to halt applications after a little more than 100,000 were enrolled.

The impending House vote seemed to have signaled a marked shift in the GOP’s thinking about the health care law. Rather than attempting to repeal the law and defund its implementation, they would rather to make the case that they will be better managers of the new public system that is being created.

The bill would have reopened the temporary program and eliminated a requirement that filers be uninsured for more than 6 months.

Remarkably, the program was slated to end in 2014 when new regulations governing preexisting conditions go into effect. Why bother bailing out an Obamacare program that was about to end anyway?

If their intent is to zero out the preventive health fund, which they call a slush fund, then just zero out that fund, not transfer the dollars over to another part of the bill.

Fortunately, because the bill took its funding from the preventive health fund, Democrats opposed it, and because it accommodated the implementation of Obamacare, enough Republicans opposed it. This underscores the current dynamic in the House where Republicans often cannot get a majority to pass something without Democrat help.

Hopefully, the majority will begin to rethink its strategy of accommodation. But that’s not likely.

In truth, this episode vindicates those who warned before the health care law passed that once it did, like in the United Kingdom, future elections would be about how to fix the law, rather than rip it out by its roots. The good news in the failure of this attempt to repair a failing Obamacare law is that many House Republicans still remember that they were not elected to fix the law, they were elected to repeal it.

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