On Monday, President Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech on the U.S. economy in which he is expected to warn Republicans against their continuing efforts to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, AP/U-T San Diego reports (Kuhnhenn, AP/U-T San Diego, 9/15).
Obama's speech comes as some conservative Republicans are backing an alternative spending bill for fiscal year 2014 that would keep the federal government running, while halting funds for the health reform law's implementation. The measure -- introduced last week by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) with the backing of 42 House Republicans and Heritage Action for America -- was in response to a proposal by House leaders for a short-term spending resolution that would force the Senate to vote on a bill defunding the ACA, while limiting the threat of a government shutdown.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday said that Obama would veto any legislation that delays or defunds the ACA. White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Rob Nabors echoed that sentiment during a closed-door session with House Democratic leaders. He said that the White House is "willing to negotiate, but not on ACA" (California Healthline, 9/13).
In his speech today, Obama is expected to highlight a report by the National Economic Council outlining factors that have contributed to economic progress over the past five years, including provisions in the ACA (AP/U-T San Diego, 9/15).
Conservative GOP Lawmakers Continue Attacks on ACA
Meanwhile, several House Republicans this weekend continued to push efforts targeting the ACA, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) during the GOP's weekly radio address touted a House-approved bill (HR 2775) that would eliminate federal subsidies for low- and middle-income U.S. residents who purchase coverage on the law's health insurance exchanges (Lillis, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/14).
The bill is in response to a final rule published July 5 that says HHS will roll back requirements for state-run and federally operated exchanges to verify the income and insurance status of people applying for coverage (California Healthline, 9/12).
During the radio address, Black called her bill a common-sense solution to combating fraud, adding, "[E]verything we do to stop waste and fix broken government removes obstacles to creating jobs and building a stronger economy" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/14).
Graves Touts ACA Defund Bill; Conservative Groups Sign On
During an interview on Friday, Graves said that local voters are voicing their support for his spending bill that would defund the ACA, the Washington Times reports.
He said, "We have 17 days to do this, and there's a sense of urgency like never before" (Howell, Washington Times, 9/13).
Graves' bill has gained support from several conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, ForAmerica, FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots.
In a statement, Jenny Beth Martin -- the national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots -- commended Graves for his "valiant effort to defund Obamacare through 2015."
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe in a statement said, "We can fund the government without funding Obamacare." He added, "The health care law has undergone over 20 delays and revisions to-date, including exemptions for connected corporations, congressional staff and the IRS. If the law isn’t ready to be implemented, the American people should not be paying for it" (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/13).
Meanwhile, Heritage Action Communications Director Dan Holler cited a recent CNN poll that found only 39% of voters view the ACA favorably. Holler said that poll shows that voters support Republican efforts to delay or defund the ACA.
However, a senior GOP aide criticized the notion that the plan to defund the ACA is responsible for the decrease in the law's popularity. The aide pointed to recent reports of businesses dropping health care coverage as a reason for the decline (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/15).
House Committee To Question Key ACA Official
In related news, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Sept. 19 will question Gary Cohen -- head of CMS' Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight -- according to a notice, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
CCIIO is overseeing several components of the ACA implementation, including the launch of the federally run exchanges and new insurance rules.
In the notice, Republicans said they would question Cohen about his office's progress with implementation and suggested that the director had misled lawmakers when he appeared before the committee in April (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/13).