June 21, 2018
Until immigration grabbed Congress's attention, House members were busily putting the finishing touches on a new budget plan. In it, conservatives map out a way to slash $302 billion over the next 10 years. But it could also be the blueprint to cutting something just as important: Obamacare.
"For the first time in a long time, we're going to try to move this narrative back to the mandatory side of spending," Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) told reporters. And when they do, Republicans will have the tools they need to take another crack at toppling the country's failure of a health care law. As part of the budget draft, the two committees that oversee the bulk of Obamacare (Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce) are writing reconciliation instructions into the plan. "In a win for many conservatives, the House budget would also leave an opening for repealing and replacing Obamacare through the separate fast-track process of budget reconciliation."
Most Americans got acquainted with the process of reconciliation last summer, when Republicans used it to try to dismantle Obama's health care law with 51 votes instead of the usual 60. Thanks to Senator John McCain's (R-Ariz.) last-minute defection, it failed. Now, some GOP members are back at the drawing board, looking for another opportunity to tackle the multi-trillion dollar mistake. While some Republicans may not have the stomach for it after August's embarrassment, conservative groups are urging them to get on board and finish the job they started.
When they do, former senator Rick Santorum, the Heritage Foundation, and Galen Institute are giving them a ready-made replacement. Yesterday, at the Hudson Institute, joined by governors like Phil Bryant (R-Miss.) and Matt Bevin (R-Ky.), several conservative leaders unveiled a plan that would give states more authority in their health care.
"After efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare fell short last year, many in Congress seem resigned to accepting the status quo or even willing to bail out and prop up the program," they point out. "But Obamacare is broken, can't be fixed, and continues to do great harm."
The goal of this coalition, which includes FRC, explains, "Our plan recognizes that what works in Massachusetts will not work in Mississippi or Missouri or Montana. What works in big cities will not work in rural areas. In response, we would provide states with greater flexibility and new resources to serve as stewards in returning freedom and choice over health decisions to patients. Dollars would flow not to insurance companies, but to the states through block grants that would replace Obamacare's payments to insurers. With new flexibility, states could use the money to:
- Lower premiums and stabilize turbulent health insurance markets.
- Improve choices and encourage wider coverage for all by creating innovative coverage options.
- Allow recipients to use their government assistance to buy a private health plan of their choice.
- Protect the vulnerable by helping those with pre-existing conditions without making coverage so costly for the young and healthy."
The idea is to turn the Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid expansion into block grants for states to spend on covering their residents. "The idea," as the Washington Examiner breaks it down, "is to provide enough flexibility so that states can tailor policies to fit the needs of their individual populations as opposed to having the federal government implement the same policies on the nation as a whole." And, it would do all of this without forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for plans that cover abortion. Even better, the effort gives pro-lifers another chance to end the forced partnership between taxpayers and abortionists like Planned Parenthood.
The number one issue voters wanted their elected leaders to address this year was the high cost of health care. GOP leaders would be wise to listen to them now instead of in November when it's too late!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.