House Republicans Plan Their Own Health Bills
The New York Times
January 20. 2011
By Robert Pear
Less than 24 hours after voting to repeal the new health care law, House Republicans said Thursday that they would pass discrete bills to achieve some of the same goals, but with more restraint in the use of federal power.
At the same time, the speaker, John A. Boehner, said House Republicans would push for much stricter limits on abortion in federal programs, including those created by the new law.
By a vote of 253 to 175, the House on Thursday directed four committees to draft legislation that would replace the health care law. The directive sets forth 13 objectives.
It says, for example, that the legislation should “lower health care premiums through increased competition and choice,” provide access to affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, increase the number of Americans with insurance and provide states with “greater flexibility” to run their Medicaid programs.
The new law will set up insurance exchanges where people can shop for coverage. Millions of low- and moderate-income people will be able to obtain federal subsidies to help defray the cost.
Mr. Boehner and other House Republican leaders on Thursday embraced a bill stipulating that — with narrow exceptions — no federal money, subsidies or tax credits could be used to pay for abortion or for any health insurance plan that includes coverage of abortion. “It’s one of our highest legislative priorities,” Mr. Boehner said, referring to the bill, offered by Representatives Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, and Daniel Lipinski, Democrat of Illinois.
Abortion rights groups vowed to fight the proposal.
Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said Republicans had told voters they wanted to “focus on creating jobs while limiting the role of government in our lives.” But now, she said, having taken control of the House, “they want to be able to interfere in our personal, private decisions, especially a woman’s right to choose.”
The White House said it would plow ahead with the health law, undeterred by the political uproar over it on Capitol Hill.
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, offered federal money to states to help them establish insurance exchanges.
“Beginning in 2014,” Ms. Sebelius said, “these marketplaces will allow individuals and small-business owners to pool their purchasing power so the mom-and-pop shop can have the same negotiating clout as the big chain down the street.”
California and other states have begun work to set up exchanges. “It would be a huge mistake to undo this progress” by repealing the new federal law, Ms. Sebelius said.
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