White House Issues Veto Warning on GOP Bill To Extend High-Risk Pools
On Tuesday, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy warning that President Obama would veto a House Republican bill (HR 1549) that would shift funds under the Affordable Care Act to sustain the ACA's temporary high-risk insurance pool program through the end of the year if it reaches his desk, AP/U-T San Diego reports.
The House is set to vote on the bill Wednesday (Lederman, AP/U-T San Diego, 4/23).
The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan was designed to help sick U.S. residents gain coverage ahead of January 2014, when the ACA's ban on denying individuals coverage because of pre-existing conditions is set to take effect.
In February, the Obama administration announced several cost-savings reforms intended to prevent the program from running out of money. HHS then announced that it was halting enrollment in the pools because there were only enough funds to cover current enrollees.
Last week, Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health introduced HR 1549, citing Obama's failure to respond to a House GOP leadership request to transfer funding from other ACA programs without congressional action.
The bill would shift about $4 billion from the ACA's Public Health and Prevention Fund to allow the extended period of enrollment in PCIP. The bill also would eliminate the ACA requirement that individuals be uninsured for at least six months before they can be eligible for coverage in PCIP (California Healthline, 4/18).
However, administration officials previously noted that money from the Public Health and Prevention Fund will be allocated for other ACA-related purposes like promoting the law's health insurance exchanges (AP/U-T San Diego, 4/23).
Bill's Proponents Battle Conflicting Support From Conservatives, Opposition From Democrats
Supporters of the bill are continuing to argue that the high-risk pools should serve as replacement to an ACA provision prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, The Hill reports. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has defended the bill as a way to help the nation's "most vulnerable patients."
The bill also has the support of several conservative-leaning groups, such as Americans for Tax Reform, the Cato Institute, FreedomWorks and the Independent Women's Voice (Hooper, The Hill, 4/23).
However, the bill faces opposition from some other conservative groups, including Club for Growth, ForAmerica and the Heritage Foundation, Politico reports.
Club for Growth has labeled the bill as a "key vote" and urged the House to reject it (Gibson, Politico, 4/23). Andy Roth -- vice president of Club for Growth -- called the measure "a complete mess" and said it is "distracting the GOP away from the real fight, which is full repeal of Obamacare."
ForAmerica Chair Brent Bozell in a statement described the bill as "CantorCare," adding that the GOP "must stop abandoning the promises they made to their supporters" to dismantle the ACA and promote economic growth (The Hill, 4/23).
Meanwhile, House Democrats are rallying against the bill, Politico reports. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday said HR 1549 "undermines a fund that [Democrats] think is very important ... [a]nd will not serve very many people but will hurt a lot of people."
However, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) -- the bill's sponsor -- argued that the measure "takes money from a wasteful, duplicative fund, moves it into a program that has bipartisan support and helps pay down the debt" (Politico, 4/23).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.