GOP Negotiators Unveil Joint Budget, Strategy To Repeal Parts of ACA
On Wednesday, Republican House and Senate budget negotiators unveiled a joint fiscal year 2016 budget agreement that includes a provision to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Post reports.
Details of Budget Agreement
The agreement would allow the Senate to use the budget reconciliation process to attempt to overturn parts of the ACA (Snell, Washington Post, 4/29).
Budget reconciliation allows budget bills to be passed by a simple majority. Doing so would avoid legislative hurdles that Republicans typically would need 60 votes to bypass. Because of rules regarding the use of reconciliation, it could not be used to pass a measure repealing the entire ACA. However, it could be used to pass legislation that would make such significant alterations to the ACA that it would need to be replaced (California Healthline, 4/28).
Under the agreement, a measure to repeal parts of the ACA is scheduled to advance in July.
According to the AP/Sacramento Bee, the agreement's 10-year budget plan includes more than $5 trillion in federal spending cuts, with the majority of those reductions coming from federal health care programs. For example, it would include about $430 billion in spending reductions for Medicare over the next 10 years. The proposal also calls for spending cuts to Medicaid over the next decade (Taylor, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/29).
Both the House and Senate could consider final approval of the agreement as early as this week. The proposal is only a GOP-sponsored agreement and is not legally binding.
Lawmakers still must pass appropriations measures specifically allocating funding for the federal government, which could cause Republicans to compromise on some parts of the proposal if they want Obama to sign the funding measures. According to the Post, Obama has said he would veto any measures that lock in funding cuts for domestic programs.
Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, "We hope to complete the budget conference report in the House and the Senate, and get going on the appropriations process," adding that pushback from Democrats "can be sorted out" then.
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned that Democratic lawmakers will not help Republicans "pass appropriations bills that lock in senseless, automatically triggered cuts that hurt" middle-class U.S. residents (Washington Post, 4/29). He added that if Republican lawmakers "actually had to implement their budget, almost [none of them] would vote for it."
Further, Democrats have said the proposal would eliminate health coverage for about 27 million U.S. residents if the ACA were repealed (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/29).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.