GOP Continues Efforts To Dismantle Health Law Through Hearings, Bills

TOPIC ALERT:

On Wednesday, Republicans are set to continue efforts to dismantle the federal health reform law, Politico reports (Haberkorn, Politico, 1/26).

Background

Republican leaders on several key House committees last week started taking steps to dissect the law, complicate its implementation and develop proposals to replace the overhaul.

Soon after the House approved a bill (HR 2) to repeal the reform law, the chamber passed a resolution (H Res 9) that would guide GOP leaders of four influential committees on how to develop alternative legislation to replace the reform law (California Healthline,1/24).

On Tap This Week

On Wednesday, the House Budget and Ways and Means committees will hold hearings to examine specific provisions in the overhaul.

CMS Chief Actuary Richard Foster is slated to appear before the Budget Committee to discuss his estimates about the financial scope of the reform law.

Meanwhile, Austan Goolsbee, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, will testify before the Ways and Means Committee. According to Politico, Republicans hope to use both interviews to build their case that the overhaul is too costly (Politico, 1/26).

In addition, the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday in a letter to HHS asked the agency to explain low participation in state high-risk pools for individuals with pre-existing conditions that were created by the reform law.

Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and oversight subpanel Chair Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) wrote, "There is reason for concern that early enrollment has proven sluggish despite early predictions that the (Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan) would show that the public was willing to embrace" the reform law (Millman, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/25).

Meanwhile, the GOP is preparing to introduce bills this week that would:

  • Repeal the individual mandate, employer requirements and a tax on medical devices;
  • Reform medical malpractice laws; and
  • Defund the health reform implementation fund (Politico, 1/26).

GOP Vies To Repeal IPAB

Republicans also intend to focus repeal efforts on a reform provision that would create the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is tasked with controlling Medicare spending growth, CQ HealthBeat reports. IPAB's recommendations would become law unless the House and Senate adopt a resolution to block them by a three-fifths majority.

On Wednesday, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) is scheduled to unveil a bill repealing IPAB. According to a statement from Roe's office, the board is a "harmless-sounding entity" that would surrender congressional control over certain Medicare matters (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 1/25).

If the IPAB repeal bill fails, the GOP still could hinder the board's mission by blocking Senate confirmation of presidential appointees, Kaiser Health News/Politico reports (Vaida, Kaiser Health News/Politico, 1/26).

GOP Blocks Democratic Maneuver To Stall Reform Bill Attacks

On Tuesday, Republican members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee successfully blocked Democrats' attempts to amend committee rules, which would have prevented GOP members from repealing various parts of the overhaul, CQ Today reports.

The committee voted 15-22 against the amendments, which would have changed the committee's rules to limit consideration of popular consumer protections in the reform bill, such as the ability of young adults to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26 and a prohibition on health insurers imposing annual and lifetime limits on people with pre-existing conditions (Weyl, CQ Today, 1/25).


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