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Scuttling of Cantor Bill Reveals GOP Split on Healthcare

House conservative: "We’re shifting money from one part of Obamacare we don’t support to another part of Obamacare we don’t support."

Rodrigo Sermeño


April 28, 2013 - 12:14 am

WASHINGTON – The House canceled a vote last week on a healthcare bill due to a lack of support, highlighting a split among GOP members about the party’s image and its priorities.

House Republicans planned to introduce legislation Wednesday that would rescue an important program of the Affordable Care Act, coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, at the expense of another vital component of the law.

But Republicans leaders decided to shelve the bill just hours after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said they were making progress on the legislation.

The measure met strong opposition from two directions: Democrats united against the bill because they see it as an attempt to repeal the health law and conservative groups resistant to any federal role in healthcare.

Cantor announced a vote on this legislation last Thursday, before GOP leadership could assess whether the bill had enough support, which did not go over well with some Republicans who thought Cantor was forcing the bill to the House floor.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) said during a panel led by conservative House Republicans on Wednesday morning that he wanted to wait and see how the bill was amended, but said he was “uncomfortable” that the legislation had not gone through the regular process.

A group of congressmen, including Reps. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Justin Amash (Mich.), Steve Scalise (La.), Trey Radel (Fla.) and Stutzman, told reporters at the panel they opposed the bill because they worry that it would bolster Obamacare.

The Helping Sick Americans Now Act cuts what Republicans call a “slush fund” and uses the money to subsidize insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. The bill would move $4 billion from the Affordable Care Act’s $10 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund into the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a program of high-risk pools.

The PCIP was a stopgap measure intended to help people who have trouble getting private insurance because of a medical condition, allowing those who have been uninsured for at least six months to get coverage at average rates. The program is scheduled to end in 2014 when other components of Obamacare take full effect.

The original goal of the PCIP was to reach more than 300,000 people by the end of the year, but because the costs were higher than anticipated, the administration had to stop taking new applications in February. The program has enrolled slightly more than 100,000 people so far.

The GOP bill would extend the program through the end of the year. The White House said that the money from the PCIP, which Republicans refer to as a “slush fund” for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is vital to promoting disease prevention programs and publicizing the new health insurance market opening this fall. On the other hand, Republicans said the Obama administration is using around $300 million from that fund to publicize the new health insurance markets coming this fall under Obamacare.

“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,” said Cantor hours before the vote on the bill was canceled.

Huelskamp said he opposed the bill because it expanded a portion of Obamacare, calling it “a bailout for those states that don’t have a high risk pool.” He also said that the bill sends a confusing message to the party base because it expands a portion of the federal health law.

“Republicans should be about managing healthcare in a way that actually the cost of [it] for ordinary Americans goes down,” said Labrador. “Subsidizing the struggles of ordinary Americans is not the solution to the problems we are facing here in Washington.”

Conservative groups like Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee, warned that Republicans who voted in favor of the bill would have scorecards marked down for supporting part of Obamacare.

“It’s pretty simple. We’re shifting money from one part of Obamacare we don’t support to another part of Obamacare we don’t support,” said Amash. “That’s a nonstarter for me.”

“Oftentimes, Republicans say, ‘We don’t like this Democratic big government program, let’s replace it with our Republican big government program.’ Enough is enough,” said Radel, who thinks the GOP should oppose any bill that does not repeal the federal health law even if it is just a symbolic message sent to their party base.

Cantor delivered a speech in February that said his party needed to get beyond “its single-minded, green-eyeshaded message” of fiscal austerity and look to the problems of ordinary struggling Americans. His message was well received, but disagreement over how to pitch the conservative message and the approach they should take to help the American people remains among Republicans.

“The American people are not asking us to be just a little to the right of the Democratic Party. They want us to have a robust discussion on how conservative principles can actually help them in their everyday lives,” said Labrador.

Many of the representatives told reporters they were planning to vote no on the bill, mainly because it did nothing to repeal Obamacare.

“The president of the U.S. promised the American people free healthcare…and now when his vision faces the reality that it actually cost money to give people healthcare and that it costs money to actually have people with pre-existing conditions covered in all healthcare policies…there’s an actual cost that the American people were never told,” Labrador continued.

“This thing is a disaster, and it’s the biggest issue you hear from big and small businesses in my district,” said Scalise. “We need to get a vote on full repeal and ask the Republican leadership about this.”

Rodrigo is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.

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Health care is truly needed in today's world. Often times patient admitted to the hospital clearly has financial difficulties to sustain a better wellness in and out if the hospital. they even struggle for hospital bills due to luck of financial stability. So the very best way to deal with medical bills is to pay them right away. An instant payday advance may be able to help you with that. When you go to the hospital, it seems like they charge individually for every little thing. You may get another bill even after you believed you had already paid it all. You can getquick cash [] to help pay for it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The way to reduce US health care costs is to take away from doctors their government enforced monopoly over access to medical drugs (except for narcotics and habit forming drugs). People can then take care of their health for much less money. Total savings per year in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Multiple tier of hospitals so that those with simple diseases aren't paying extra for high tech equipment used by a minority. In effect what you pay will be directly related to what you use health care wish. Eliminate all the laws and regulations written to benefit the professions and reduce the cost of living here in the US by a trillion dollars a year. That's $3,000 per capita for everyone of us. Unfortunately neither major political party wants to do things like this!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hey tell me again, obooz, our clown in Thief, how obozo care is going to make my costs go down, my care better and that I get to keep my doctor.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You and everyone else is going to be paying more for health care under Obamacare. Not just in insurance premiums, but in taxes too. Total US health care costs under Obamacare will hit 20% of GNP, or over three trillion dollars a year. If we paid what the rest of the developed world pays, the cost of care would be about 12.5% of GNP, or about two trillion dollars a year. But Uncle Sucker is easy to bribe, and that's why we're paying a trillion dollars more a year. American physicians earn the world's highest incomes, our hospitals are the world's most expensive. Our drugs are the world's most expensive. And our drug industry is the world's most profitable. Oddly enough, we live shorter lives than people in countries that pay two thirds of what we pay, so there isn't any real benefit from that extra trillion dollars per year except for those on the receiving end who are doing very well, thank you. Part of all that money of course disappears "off shore" out of the reach of the IRS, so the rest of us have to make up the difference...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
stop funding this bill until it is read, understood and can be explained to the American public and that no congressman will get a pass on being in the plan.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When are the elites in Congress going to recognize that they are supposed to be working FOR we, the people. Defund Obamacare so the average business person can get ahead with plans to do better. Secure the borders, stop giving Earned Income Tax Credits to taxpayers taking credit for nephews and nieces in other countries, demand the use of E-Verify and fine the heck out of employers ignoring it. Stop giving out driver's licenses to illegals (who don't buy or continue to pay for auto insurance), stop giving out automatic citizenship to babies born to illegals in the U.S. In other words, invest time in enforcing the laws already on the books before you bite off another hunk to complicate our lives further.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, I bet if those high risk health care groups requiring premium subsidies were frequent fliers in the friendly skies the bill would have passed already. What do you want to bet the Washington political class exempt themselves from Obamacare?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you would listen to the People...we want YOU to defund and REPEAL this MONSTROSITY of a bill that was approved behind closed doors with bribes and kickbacks and all kinds of arm-twisting...and YOU are doing it again with the immigration bill!!! DEFUND AND REPEAL OBAMACARE!!! You are NOT the DECIDERS...You are supposed to listen to the PEOPLE!! We the PEOPLE WILL VOTE OUT ANYONE THAT VOTES TO IMPLEMENT HEALTHCARE and/or IMMIGRATION!! REPEAL IT!!!!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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