Congressional Republicans will soon move forward on repealing major portions of Obamacare, and this time Senate Democrats can’t stop the effort.
Three different committees in the House of Representatives are advancing legislation that leaders hope to roll into one package to pass and send along to the president.
The Ways and Means Committee is most ambitious. It is pushing full repeals of the individual and employer mandates, along with repeals of the so-called “Cadillac Tax” and the medical device tax. The Energy and Commerce panel is looking to kill the Prevention and Public Health Fund while the Education and Workforce Committee wants to scrap employer auto-enrollment for health insurance. If the whole package were to become law, it would trim about $80 billion from federal spending.
House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Georgia, says this effort will force a veto from the president and he believes it will help the American people better understand which party is on their side.
“It’s important that the American people know who is standing up for positive, patient-oriented solutions in health care. Those are the Republicans in the House and Senate and who’s getting in the way of the kinds of things the American people want when it comes to health care,” said Price.
The GOP-led House already approved repeals of the “Cadillac Tax” and the medical device tax but they failed to find 60 votes to advance in the U.S. Senate. That will not be a problem this time, as Republicans use a budget tool known as reconciliation that requires only a simple majority for passage in the Senate.
Price says this option is a result of lawmakers doing their jobs earlier this year in the budget process.
“So many of the American people are frustrated because we haven’t been able to get things to the president’s desk because of the 60-vote threshold in the United States Senate. Reconciliation is a process through the budget resolution that we passed earlier this year,” said Price.
“Part of that is the ability to do this reconciliation bill, which we passed out of our committee in the House and hopefully we’ll pass through the House itself and send it to the Senate in a week or two that will repeal huge portions of Obamacare,” he added.
The marquee items are the proposed repeals of the individual and employer mandates, requiring adults 26 years old and older and businesses of a certain size to purchase coverage. Price and his allies also want to ditch the “Cadillac Tax.”
“The ‘Cadillac Tax’ is a tax on those individuals who have insurance coverage, mostly from their employer but at a level that the government deems to be ‘too much.’ This again gets to the core of what Obamacare’s all about and that is that Washington is making decisions for you and your family that may or may not be what you would want or desire,” said Price.
He says this is a classic example of government stifling consumer choice.
“When the government says you’ve got too much, what does it do? It will tax it and that’s what the Cadillac Tax is. It flies in the face of choices. One of the principles that is so important in health care is that the patients ought to be deciding when they’re treated and where they’re treated, not the government forcing individuals to purchase what they think they ought to buy,” said Price.
Obamacare opponents also want to slash more than $12 billion by throwing out the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
“There’s a classic Washington example of a wonderful-sounding thing, when in fact it is essentially a slush fund to move billions of dollars to the kinds of activities that it wants,” said Price, saying that money is essentially at the beck and call of the secretary of Health and Human Services.
Lastly, the Republicans want to do away with employer auto-enrolling in Obamacare.
“This is an adjunct to the employer mandate. What we think is most important is that patients and families and their doctors be making medical decisions. It ought to be patients and families that are selecting the kind of coverage they want for themselves,” said Price.
Price concedes Obama will veto the legislation and Congress will not be able to override it. However, he says the message this episode will send is crucial.
“The president, no doubt, will veto this piece of legislation. We think it’s important that the American people understand and appreciate who’s standing in the way of real solutions,” said Price.