Boehner Unveils Strategy To Take Down ACA Through Targeted Votes
During a private meeting with the House Republican Conference on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) outlined a strategy to gradually dismantle the Affordable Care Act through a series of votes he described as "targeted strikes" against the law, according to a source who attended the meeting, The Hill reports (Berman, The Hill, 7/31).
Boehner told his GOP colleagues that the strategy to chip away at the ACA is "achievable" and added that it is their "best shot at actually getting rid of Obamacare." He praised the House GOP caucus for approving legislation (HR 2667, HR 2668) that would delay the employer and individual mandates under the ACA, which he described as "arguably ... the most important moment in the three years since the law was signed."
Boehner added, "The president is fond of saying these Obamacare votes are 'meaningless' -- but I'd remind you he's already signed seven bills repealing or delaying parts of the law." He urged his Republican colleagues to "stick together and communicate" on the ACA-dismantling strategy, noting that it is designed to be one the GOP can "build on," opening the door for other GOP-supported ideas targeting the ACA.
Boehner noted that in the coming months, the House will hold votes on measures that would require income verification for health care subsidies, eliminate the ACA's Independent Payment Advisory Board and abolish funding streams to the law, according to the source (Sherman, Politico, 7/31).
Before that, the House on Friday is expected to vote on a bill (HR 2009) that would block the Internal Revenue Service from implementing the ACA, marking the effort as the GOP's final strike against the ACA before Congress adjourns for its August recess (Attias, CQ Roll Call, 7/31).
The bill -- sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) -- would prohibit the Treasury secretary or any delegate of the secretary from implementing any part of the ACA. If the bill is approved by the House, it is expected to stall in Democrat-controlled Senate (California Healthline , 7/31).
White House Issues Veto Threat Against Bill To Bar IRS From Implementing ACA
On Wednesday, the White House issued a Statement of Administrative Policy noting that the administration "strongly opposes" HR 2009 and warning that President Obama would veto the bill if it reached his desk, CQ Roll Call reports (CQ Roll Call, 7/31).
The White House said, "Rather than attempting once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried nearly 40 times, it is time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles and join the President in an agenda focused on providing greater economic opportunity and security for middle class families and all those working to get into the middle class" (Goad, "RegWatch," The Hill, 7/31).
The statement noted that the bill "would cost millions of hard working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve," adding that the move would cause premiums to rise by an average of more than $4,000 annually for about 20 million U.S. residents (CQ Roll Call, 7/31).
Boehner Continues To Stay Mum on Defunding Plan
Meanwhile, Boehner on Wednesday continued his public silence on a developing plan to block funding for the ACA via the annual budget process. He noted that while he neither supports nor opposes the plan, the House GOP leadership has not made a decision on the matter (The Hill, 7/31).
Under the plan -- spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) -- Republicans are considering blocking any government funding resolution that includes money for further implementation of the ACA. A similar plan in the House has gained the support of 66 members (California Healthline , 7/31).
However, Boehner warned his leadership team that the plan -- which would involve facilitating a federal government shutdown -- poses political dangers that could threaten the Republicans' future majority in the House (Politico, 7/31).
GOP Has No Plan B for Government Shutdown
Heritage Action for America, the conservative think tank, is pushing lawmakers to support Lee's plan, but the group is facing questions about a backup strategy should the government shutdown, Roll Call's "GOPPERS" reports.
A GOP lawmaker familiar with the discussion between Heritage Action officials and members of the GOP caucus said the group has "no viable alternative" to an unlikely scenario that Obama caves to Republican demands. He added, "That's leaving us in the lurch. That's not proper planning."
A senior GOP aide noted that if the government shuts down, Republicans will "need a plausible next step or risk harming the overall cause to rid this country of that terrible law" (Fuller, "GOPPERS," Roll Call, 7/31).
Voters Oppose Shutdown Threat, Poll Finds
U.S. voters generally oppose Lee's plan to facilitate a government shutdown to defund the ACA, according to a new poll from The Morning Consult, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. The poll -- which was conducted online among 2,000 registered voters between July 24 and July 26 -- found that respondents by a two-to-one margin would be less likely to vote for lawmaker who voted for such a plan.
Nearly one-third of respondents said Congress should make changes to improve the law, while 23% said lawmakers should let it take effect as is or expand it. Thirty percent of respondents said they favor a full repeal of the law, while 4% said Congress should delay or defund the law (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/31).
Obama Meets With Democrats
In related news, Obama on Wednesday met with House and Senate Democrats in an effort to "boost [their] spirits" before they return to their constituencies during the August recess, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. Attendees at the meetings said Obama assured them that they "are on the right side of these issues and the right side of history in terms of providing health care to Americans" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/31).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.