Short Takes On News & Events

House Spending Bill Cuts Funding For Exchanges

By Mary Agnes Carey

March 7th, 2013, 5:55 AM

You don’t hear much these days about Republicans trying to repeal the 2010 health care law. The Supreme Court ruling last June upheld most of the measure. President Obama’s re-election and Democrats’ continued control of the Senate have helped “Obamacare” implementation to move ahead.

Photo by Karl Eisenhower/KHN

But there is one way to slow things down: use the power of the purse.

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation to fund the government through Sept. 30.  The measure keeps “sequestration” — the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that began March 1 – in place. The bill would fund the government beyond March 27 when the current “continuing resolution” expires.

According to Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who is the ranking  member of the House Appropriations Committee, the measure will delay implementation of the health law’s exchanges scheduled to begin enrolling individuals in October.

“Without IT infrastructure to process enrollments and payments, verify eligibility and establish call centers, health insurance for millions of Americans could be further delayed,” Lowey said in a statement.

Funding for the health law’s implementation is one of many areas of federal spending cut as part of sequestration.

The House measure passed mostly along party lines by a vote of 261-151 but more than 50 Democrats supported the bill. Many Senate Democrats are expected to oppose the package, which is likely to be modified.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., said Wednesday he plans to offer an amendment on the floor that would delay funding of the 2010 health law.  Cruz has also introduced legislation to repeal the law.

The health law “should not be implemented at [a] time when our economy is struggling so mightily, at a time when its implementation could push us into a full recession,” he said in a statement.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky. praised passage of the House bill.

“The House did the right thing today by passing this legislation,” Rogers said. “As we try to get our fiscal house in order, it’s important to come together on issues where we can agree – avoiding a government shutdown, providing our people with essential services, and supporting our troops and veterans.”

24 Responses to “House Spending Bill Cuts Funding For Exchanges”

  1. William says:

    You and ONCDOC offer the best testimony in favor of an all-public healthcare system. In fact you both should produce a commercial about why we should have a healthcare system like Canada or Germany or Japan or the UK. The way you describe our present healthcare system and the way you predict that Obamacare will be a colossal failure, the only thing we have left is a universal single-payer healthcare system, right? Unless you can come up with something that works for everyone, that works for 100 percent of Americans, while adhering to free market principles, our only hope is an all-public healthcare system that is paid for by huge tax increases. So, tell us, do you two have any better ideas? So far, all you have is gloom and doom. Guess what? Gloom and doom won’t work either. Give us something more positive than gloom and doom and dispare. Give us your ideas for healthcare reform. As I see it, absent Obamacare, there’s absolutely nobody who is offering any ideas. Just gloom and doom. At the very least, Obamacre is trying to change our thinking about how to deliver healthcare in the future. Nothing else is doing that. Not even close. Especially not you!

  2. Evan says:

    If care for our health is our own responsibility (not someone else’s), then we should be expected to pay for it ourselves through Insurance or simply over the counter. This would support the idea that our system is capitalism – a willing buyer and a willing seller.

    If care for our health is our neighbor’s responsibility, then we should post it in our houses as a RIGHT and the expense for caring for everyone’s health would be paid for by society in general (government as its agent).

    So the question therefore comes down to who is responsible – the single citizen or all citizens in unison? Capitalism or Socialism? Those that will not pay would leave themselves out by choice. Those that cannot pay would seen as needing charity. So do we allow a free market system provide service that we can choose or do we mandate charity for all, regardless of willingness to work, status in the community, or ability to pay? The lack of free markets means less freedom for all, rich and poor.

    By the way, the public dialogue is on Healthcare, when it should be properly titled Heath Insurance. More hoodwinking from our elected representatives. Personally I think this all can be solved with term limits so that fresh minds can solve a problem like health insurance whereas the bozo’s in Washington simply thrive on the argument, which is how lawyers do business!

  3. Evan commented, “The lack of free markets means less freedom for all, rich and poor.”

    The healthcare system never has been a free market. If my employer doesn’t provide health care insurance, then we are told to go into markets and buy it ourselves. It’s very expensive, so what can we do to lower the costs of insurance?

    Well, seeing that healthcare is now 20% of our GDP and growing, we’d probably want to know why. As we investigate, we have outrageous medical malpractice claims, very high administrative costs at most hospitals, medical device makers making very high profits, drug companies making high profits on wonder drugs, the previous two issues cause concern about physician recommendations, etc.

    Therefore, we have a problem with costs of healthcare which cause issues for insurance companies, employers, citizens, etc.

    Well, since hospitals serve our public health at the behest of our government via citizens who elect our officials into office, then we should just ask them to focus on the costs of healthcare. If they wanted to use a single payer system, that system would be able to dictate the costs of medical care thus removing the burden from businesses and local governments.

    The only reason these obvious solutions aren’t being pursued is due to the substantial dollars Big Med pays for lobbyists to prevent it from happening,

    Tell us again, Why does free market capitalism create freedom within the healthcare system?

  4. Thomas says:

    Yeah Evan…

    Tell us again!