The House of Representatives voted 230-189 today to go ahead with a federal budget that defunds Obamacare. The onus now falls on the Senate, where the budget proposal will most likely fail, though Senator Ted Cruz has sort-of vowed to filibuster. A potential government shutdown looms a bit larger now that this bill has gone through. Appropriately, the vote falls on the same day as a revelation that Home Depot will be shifting 20,000 employees from their own health care plan onto the Affordable Care Act state exchanges. Unions have become increasingly discontent with the law and the public at large tends to oppose it. But that won’t stop Democrats from voting consistently to protect the Affordable Care Act.
A hypothetical void created by the increasingly hypothetical repeal of the ACA could be filled, says the Republican Study Committee helmed by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), with a GOP proposal called “The American Health Care Reform Act.” The RSC touted the plan as a market-based approach to health care, though perhaps it might be fair to call it a free-er market approach than an outright separation of state and medicine.
In a conference call to discuss some of the provisions and highlights of the proposal, Scalise was quick to mention that he would not like to see the health care industry return wholly to pre-guaranteed issue days, and thus would push for state high-risk pools rather than mandates against prohibition of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. The proposal would also call for some subsidies, but these would be covered by savings created as a result of the bill’s implementation. Emphasis would be placed on tax deductions rather than tax credits, and implementation would be revenue/fiscally neutral. One provision of the bill clarifies that it does not require health plans to provide abortion coverage, and would prohibit appropriated federal funds from being allocated to such services. Since the bill would fully repeal Obamacare, the presumption is that the mandate on contraceptive coverage would be eliminated.
Rep. Scalise acknowledged that the bill would probably be tweaked and changed significantly as it went through committees, and that it would be difficult to get the bill passed into law due to the current political balance. But the American Health Care Reform Act does give Republicans an opportunity to hold up a contrasting vision to Obamacare.