Conservative Groups Urge GOP To Embrace ACA Defunding Plan
On Tuesday, several conservative groups are expected to hold a rally outside the Capitol to boost support for a GOP plan to defund the Affordable Care Act, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/8).
The plan -- spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) -- calls for Republicans to block any government funding resolution that includes money for the ACA.
Republicans will have several opportunities to move forward with the plan. Lawmakers return from recess on Sept. 9 and face an Oct. 1 deadline to pass a stopgap measure to keep the federal government funded. After that, lawmakers will have until late October or early November to raise the federal debt ceiling or risk defaulting on the country's debt.
Many Republicans in the House and Senate oppose the strategy, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). They say it is a reckless move that could result in voters holding the GOP responsible for the government shutting down (California Healthline, 8/26).
As a result, it appears as if the effort has failed to gain enough support to solidify a win as Congress begins a series of fiscal negotiations over the next two months ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/8).
About the Rally
The groups -- which include FreedomWorks, Heritage Action for America and the Tea Party Patriots -- say the rally is intended to help efforts to "exempt America from Obamacare," CQ Roll Call reports.
Specifically, Dan Holler -- spokesperson for Heritage Action for America -- said, "The purpose really is to continue what these folks saw during August and make sure they're seeing the same enthusiasm back in Washington."
More than 10 lawmakers are scheduled to speak at the event, including Lee, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), who recently announced that on Wednesday he will hold a Twitter town hall focused on the effort (Attias, CQ Roll Call, 9/9).
The event also will feature speakers from more than 10 tea-party-affiliated groups and conservative stalwarts, such as Herman Cain. Tea Party Patriots are busing supporters in from about 30 towns across the Midwest and South.
New Challenge for Defunding Plan
According to "Healthwatch," backers of the plan to defund the ACA face a new challenge in light of the growing debate over the U.S.' role in Syria's civil war and growing pressure not to allow a government shutdown.
However, Brian Phillips -- spokesperson for Lee -- said the debate over Syria will hurt President Obama's efforts to promote the ACA because his administration will have less time to address critics' attacks on the law ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/8).
Phillips added that the conflict also "helps sharpen the message that we want to fund the priorities of government, not just Obamacare." He noted that funding the ACA could put funding for military efforts at risk (CQ Roll Call, 9/8).
House To Vote on Stopgap Budget Bill
This week, the House is scheduled to vote on a bill to keep the government funded past Sept. 30, but Republicans still are debating whether to include language that would defund the ACA, according to senior GOP aides, the Washington Post reports.
According to the aides, the proposal likely will fund the government through Dec. 15 at current levels, meaning about $20 billion in additional sequester cuts would remain in place and would likely take effect in January if a broader budget deal is not reached.
A GOP leadership aide said a "clean" bill, which would continue to fund the ACA, remains a possibility. The aide said Boehner and other GOP leaders would not make a final decision until they meet with Republican lawmakers, who return to Congress on Monday (Montgomery, Washington Post, 9/6).
Cantor Outlines ACA House Strategy
Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Friday released a memo saying the House would continue to target the ACA through a series of votes, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
In his memo, Cantor wrote, "As the Oct. 1 implementation approaches, we will continue to pursue the strategy of systematically derailing this train wreck and replacing it with a patient-centered system which removes Washington from health care decisions."
He highlighted the strategy's success, noting that Obama has enacted seven of the House's 40 proposals to chip away at the ACA.
House To Vote on ACA Subsidies
In line with Cantor's memo, the House this week is expected to advance a bill (HR 2775) that would prevent the federal government from subsidizing health insurance coverage through the exchanges until a fraud detection system has been put in place, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 9/6).
Under the ACA, individuals with annual incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level who do not have access to affordable coverage through their employer are eligible for subsidized coverage through the exchanges (California Healthline, 8/14).
In a final rule published on July 5, HHS said it 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, 7/9).
Under the final regulation, federally operated exchanges still will verify such information beginning in 2014, but states operating their own exchanges can wait until 2015 to do so.
The bill -- introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) -- would require the federal government to establish a new fraud-detection system for subsidies available through the law's state-run insurance exchanges (California Healthline, 7/29).
The legislation currently is in the House Rules Committee, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider a rule on the measure (CQ Roll Call, 9/8).
Barrasso Warns of 'Rate Shock'
During the weekly Republican address, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Saturday warned that many families -- including those that receive subsidies -- "are going to have real sticker shock when they see their new insurance rates" in the exchanges, AP/Modern Healthcare reports (AP/Modern Healthcare, 9/7).
Barrasso -- who worked as an orthopedic surgeon for two decades before being elected to the Senate -- criticized the ACA, saying it delivered "higher taxes and bigger government, without the lower costs or quality care."
Barrasso also cited reports that some businesses are cutting workers' hours to avoid the law's employer mandate and criticized a speech delivered last week by President Bill Clinton. He said, "Americans want real solutions to bring down the cost of health care -- not more press releases and propaganda" (Hattem, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/7).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.