Boehner: GOP Will Continue To Work To Dismantle ACA
On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) during an interview on CBS' "Face The Nation," reaffirmed Republicans' opposition to the Affordable Care Act, saying the law is "bad for America" and vowed on behalf of the GOP to do "everything we can" to derail it, The Hill's "Hill Tube" reports.
Boehner's comments came just days after the House -- with some Democratic support -- voted to delay the law's individual and employer mandates (Viebeck, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 7/20). In a pair of votes last week, the House passed two bills (HR 2667, HR 2668) that would delay the two mandates, despite a veto threat from the White House (California Healthline, 7/18).
During Sunday's interview, Boehner suggested that the Obama administration's recent decisions to implement the employer mandate one year later -- in 2015 -- and roll back income verification requirements for the ACA's insurance exchanges were proof that the law is not working properly (Viebeck, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 7/20).
Boehner also vowed to schedule additional House votes to dismantle or impede the law, adding that he expects "to see bipartisan votes coming out of the House to derail" the ACA. He noted that some Democrats already are beginning to see that the law is unworkable. "They know it's not ready ... they know it's a train wreck," he said, adding, "I wouldn't be so quick to say they're never going to take this up."
Boehner also urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule votes in the upper chamber on the two House-approved ACA mandate bills (Viebeck, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 7/21).
House GOP Soft on 'Repeal and Replace' Mantra
Despite Boehner's recent comments crystalizing the GOP's opposition to the ACA, House GOP lawmakers still have yet to advance an alternative solution for the law, AP/Modern Healthcare reports. House Republican leaders have already conducted about 40 votes to repeal part of or the entire law.
Following the enactment of the ACA in 2010, the GOP issued "A Pledge to America" that vowed to "repeal and replace" the law with "common-sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs." However, it remains unclear whether Republicans will conduct a vote on their own plan before the 2014 elections or before President Obama leaves office.
According to AP/Modern Healthcare, GOP efforts to replace the law have been disrupted by internal divisions, disagreements over political strategy and Obama's 2012 re-election.
Some Republican leaders -- like House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) -- have said they will "have a replacement bill ready" if they successfully repeal the ACA.
Meanwhile, other Republicans -- like Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) -- have said they hope to release a bill to repeal and replace the ACA this term. Broun, who is running for a Senate seat in 2014, has drafted his own bill that would enact a series of tax breaks and regulatory changes, such as permitting insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines.
Legislation to repeal and replace the ACA also is being developed by Upton's committee, the Republican Study Conference and elsewhere, according to AP/Modern Healthcare. However, few details are known about the bills and no timetables have been provided (Espo, AP/Modern Healthcare, 7/21).
Begich Proposes Two-Year Delay of the Employer Mandate
In related news, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) last week introduced a bill (S 1330) that would go further than the Obama administration and delay implementation the ACA's employer mandate until 2016, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports.
Begich said the bill -- known as the Small Business Relief Plan, which combines five measures amending the ACA -- would "help remove obstacles for our small businesses and simplify purchasing health insurance." Among other provisions, the bill would allow some small businesses to offer insurance through the Federal Employee Health Benefits program and expand eligibility for subsidies to offset the cost of coverage.
In a news release, Begich noted that his bill would improve the ACA, not "dismantle" it. He added that the bill "will give families and small businesses more options to choose from when picking a health plan, provide much needed tax credits to more small-business owners, reduce taxes for business expenses, and delay the employer responsibility reporting requirements and penalties to give businesses time to learn about the new law" (Cox, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 7/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.