The question before the House is a simple one: What level of funding should the government operate at for fiscal 2014? Had Congress done its job and actually worked out a budget deal over the past year, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Yet, here we are on the verge of another needless crisis created by those who want to score political points on both the right and the left. In reality, the issue is not whether to fund the government. A clean CR that maintains the current level of funding, including the sequester cuts implemented in March, could probably pass with about 150 Republican votes and the rest coming from Democrats. Of course, that would be deadly for Speaker John Boehner so he has to offer a CR that does all of that and includes the tea party pipe dream of defunding Obamacare. So...that CR likely passes the House on a strict party line vote and goes to the Senate, which will strip the defunding of Obamacare from the CR, leaving us no closer to averting a government shutdown.
In yet another effort to repeal Obamacare, the Republican Study Committee released a new proposal that will completely repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Reform Act. The proposal includes the following main points:
- Fully repeals President Obama's health care law, eliminating billions in taxes and thousands of pages of unworkable regulations and mandates that are driving up health care costs.
- Spurs competition to lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool together and get the same buying power as large corporations.
- Reforms medical malpractice laws in a commonsense way that limits trial lawyer fees and non-economic damages while maintaining strong protections for patients.
- Provides tax reform that allows families and individuals to deduct health care costs, just like companies, leveling the playing field and providing all Americans with a standard deduction for health insurance.
- Expands access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into portable savings accounts to be used for health care expenses.
- Safeguards individuals with pre-existing conditions from being discriminated against purchasing health insurance by bolstering state-based high risk pools and extending HIPAA guaranteed availability protections.
- Protects the unborn by ensuring no federal funding of abortions.
So, while the Republican Study Committee proposal has some good aspects until it finds a way to deal with the affordability issue for the working poor it probably will go about as far as the CR that defunds Obamacare. Which is likely a place filled with mothballs.