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House Republicans Push for Small Changes to ObamaCare

House Republicans Push for Small Changes to ObamaCare

. . . while continuing to pay lip service to full repeal

House Republicans are proposing five changes to ObamaCare while still asserting that they are interested in and working for full repeal.  Still wildly unpopular, ObamaCare highlights the divide between Republican and conservative voters who want it repealed and their representatives on the hill who, while having (show) voted for repeal many times over the past few years, seem less interested in repeal with each passing year.

Unlike previous changes Congress has made to ObamaCare (rescinding some funds in the “Louisiana Purchase,” ensuring that TRICARE plans are deemed to meet ObamaCare’s minimum insurance requirements, and other such moves), the new proposed changes seem to be made with an eye to the long-term.

The Hill reports:

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday held a hearing on five bills that would make relatively small changes to the health law, such as changing the documentation required to enroll in coverage or changing how insurers can use someone’s age in setting premiums.

The moves indicate that Republicans have not ruled out making adjustments to the existing law despite preperations to tout their long-awaited replacement plan for all of ObamaCare, coming from Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) task force later this month.

Asked about any conflict between the replacement task force and the consideration of smaller bills, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) noted that the full replacement plan would not actually be voted on or put into legislative language.

“Remember, we’re not intending to move this piece through the committee or the House,” Upton said of the task force’s work. “It’s a discussion document. It’s a place where we think most of our colleagues can be, principles that we stand for.”

The task force’s replacement plan is part of Ryan’s high-profile effort to show voters that Republicans have policy solutions. The smaller-scale bills considered Friday, on the other hand, could actually move at least some distance through the legislative process.

Three of the proposed measures are reported by The Hill:

One bill would allow insurers to charge older people higher premiums to account for the higher cost of their care. The bill would allow older people’s premiums to be five times higher than younger enrollees’, rather than three times higher, as it is under ObamaCare currently.

Another measure would require people signing up for ObamaCare in extra sign-up periods to provide documentation proving that they qualify before enrolling, rather than after.

A third bill would reduce the grace period for enrollees who don’t pay their premiums to 30 days, from 90 days, before they lose their coverage.

Democrats are thrilled that Republicans are showing a willingness to focus on “fixing” ObamaCare (while still saying they are focused on repeal).

The Hill continues:

Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), the health subcommittee’s top Democrat, said the bills “only serve to help insurance companies rather than people.”

While he is opposing the legislation, Green said in an interview ahead of the hearing on Wednesday that it is progress that Republicans are holding a hearing on any changes to the health law, rather than full repeal.

“I’m happy about it,” Green said. “I’ve been asking for that for about six years. Let’s go back and fix it, because any bill Congress ever passed, typically we wait a year or two, see how it works, we go back in and fix the problems. We haven’t had that opportunity because it’s always just repeal.”

Some Democrats expressed openness to compromise around some of the measures.

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) suggested a possible middle ground of 60 days for the grace period, in between the current 90 days and the GOP proposal for 30 days.

The Hill also notes some other clues that the GOP is moving away from the idea of repeal and toward tinkering around the edges of ObamaCare.

There have been a few other signs that Republicans are starting to focus on changing the health law instead of repealing it, though that could change under a Republican president.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) introduced a replacement bill that left some of ObamaCare in tact last month, saying they were recognizing “political reality.” And the Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved a bipartisan health spending bill that largely steered clear of attacks on ObamaCare.

Some lobbyists, though, expressed some confusion as to why Republicans on the House committee are going forward with small-scale changes to the law at the same time as they seek to repeal it.

One Republican healthcare lobbyist said the move “surprises us.”

“It seems like making these fixes runs counter to what the GOP has been preaching on repeal,” the lobbyist added. “For example, why do we have to fix the grace periods when we want to repeal the bill?”


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Xenomethean | June 11, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Small changes? That is it? No, the only change is to get rid of Obamacare (oxymoron) entirely! My family was nearly hurt because of his “care”. Thanks Obama for making people criminals for not buying into a profit driven scam, that only works for few and screws many.

If you want status quo with cosmetic changes support Ryan and the establishment.

If you want real change, be part of the Trump Movement.

    Ragspierre in reply to DaMav. | June 11, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    The “T=rump movement” is Collectivist diarrhea.

    Canadian single payer OR…

    fascist economics Federal “bargaining”.

    So people don’t “die in the streets”.

      El Cid defender of the Faith in reply to Ragspierre. | June 12, 2016 at 8:54 am

      So much confusion.

      For one, Canada is NOT a single payer system.
      Two: The USA has the largest Federal system in the world–it is called Medicare, and it is many, many times larger than all the Canadian provincial systems put together.

      Also, the greatest burden on the system is chronic disease (diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart, etc.) These are diseases of older people. Young people need to be covered for trauma like accidents.

      We need to figure out a better way to deal with it. There are some very interesting developments in the marketplace.

    Some change is bad, DaMav. Like putting an arrested adolescent narcissist in charge . . . of anything, let alone of America. Do you recall what you learned about the socio-political situation in . . . oh, say, Germany, before the rise of the National Socialists?

    Anger, hurt pride, a poor economy, low employment, national debt, indignation . . . etc. All used and fueled to specific purpose by a slick-talking con man. Jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire is definitely “change,” but it’s probably more prudent to think first, no?

      Sounds like you are talking about your idol RabidPierre

      “con man…an arrested adolescent narcissist…anger…hurt pride”

      But I won’t sink so far into the slime to compare him to Nazis — I’ll leave that kind of vicious sewage slinging to the hate crazed anti-Trumpers. Check your post for an example.

      Ragspierre in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | June 11, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      You T-rump sucking mow-rons are so cute when you get hysterical…and it’s SOOOOOOOoooooo easy to push you into hysteria!

      All one has to do is state the facts about your little yellow god.

      It just drives you bat-shit crazy. Which is a short trip.

        herm2416 in reply to Ragspierre. | June 12, 2016 at 8:22 am

        There was a time, long ago, Rages-Pierre, that I respected much of what you wrote.
        I know better now. You are so predictable, it defies logic as to why you bother commenting any more.

This is a smoke screen for implementing small changes intended to ‘fix’ the law.

Common Sense | June 11, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Clueless Republicans…………..

And they wonder why Trump is kicking their butt! 🙂

TRUMP 2016

    Ragspierre in reply to Common Sense. | June 11, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    How many GOPers vote for Obamadoggle?

    At the same time, who was pulling of Canadian single-payer?


      Common Sense in reply to Ragspierre. | June 11, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      ZERO You Idiot.

      “It seems like making these fixes runs counter to what the GOP has been preaching on repeal,” the lobbyist added. “For example, why do we have to fix the grace periods when we want to repeal the bill?”

        Well, to be fair, Trump did support HillaryCare in the ’90’s and has said, even recently, that he thinks that one of the three top priorities of the federal government is healthcare. Trump is, and has long been, an advocate for big government control of health care. That is indisputable. He even loved Hillary’s 2008 plan:

        He thinks his idea for the way “his” government controls health care is the bestest evah! But it’s still centralized, government control for Trump and has been since HillaryCare.

        Trump has said that he likes the federal mandate that every person in America buy government-approved health insurance. Everyone in America should be forced, by the feds, to buy a product. That’s Trump.

        These are facts.

        I get, very much, the anger and dissatisfaction with the existing establishment class, but let’s take a good, hard look at whom we intend to raise up on our shoulders as our savior. Just a teensy peek. What can it hurt?

          “These are facts.”

          No, not precisely. You leave out quite a bit.

          Start with your second assertion, that Trump supports the Obamacare individual mandate. He never said that. There was the question, but he did not answer it in that way and went on to completely trash Obamacare in every respect. The next day he clarified what he meant, that he was for eliminating the “pre-existing” provisions in insurance. Those faux conservative websites you link do not report the whole truth. Imagine that.

          From the #1 item in his healthcare position:

          1. Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.

          Your second “He even loved Hillary’s 2008 plan”, he did not say that. He did say it might be good, that she had learned from her mistakes, and that others thought it might have merit. A bit far from Love…

inspectorudy | June 11, 2016 at 5:24 pm

This shows the need for a third party that can pull the moderates and the center away from both parties. And by moderates, I do not mean people with no principles or patriotism but people that can have a disagreement but still debate the issues. I also would like to have candidates that will openly discuss the issues, in detail, so that we can make up our minds on facts instead of emotions. It will be a long tough fight and many years of losses to candidates that we abhor but other than taking up arms it is the only way. The R’s and the D’s are about the same once they get to DC and there isn’t much we can do about it. Term limits would be a start but since the people who have the most to lose, vote on that issue, we can’t really expect much improvement. I know that many D’s, mostly blue collar and many Hispanics would vote for a strong principled candidate if they had the opportunity. It also isn’t the Libertarian party! I heard a joke on the radio and it was “What do you get when you mix marijuana and Kool-Aid?”. Gary Johnson!

Sigh. As long as Obama is in office they need a VETO PROOF majority, they don’t have it
Personally I would run bills through without regard for what O might do. Let him and the Dems be seen as the one’s keeping things from being done.

    DaMav in reply to genes. | June 11, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    I agree but I don’t think Ryan and his ilk really want to take on Obama. Someone might accuse them of “trickle-down racism” and they would be trickling down in their pants.

Subotai Bahadur | June 11, 2016 at 7:17 pm

Here is the key:

“Remember, we’re not intending to move this piece through the committee or the House,” Upton said of the task force’s work. “It’s a discussion document. It’s a place where we think most of our colleagues can be, principles that we stand for.”

Leaving aside that an iron rice bowl is the only principle the GOPe has, it is clear that the Republicans have no intention of repealing or replacing Obamacare. They just want something to point to until November. If it works, and gets them re-elected, they will mock us for believing them again after the betrayals after we gave them the Senate.

It is all a game. Nothing will be done. If you believe anything Paul Ryan or his toadies say, you have learned nothing from the last decade.

    You are exactly right. It’s smoke, mirrors, more smoke, more mirrors.

    The GOPe has learned nothing and need to be pried out of D. C. one election at a time.

    inspectorudy in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | June 11, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Can we say lobbyist? That is what this is all about. If the Congressmen/women that are there today meet with lobbyist they know that the lobbyist is where their meal ticket is coming from. Not the Voters. This is what is wrong with the whole system. Once they figure out that all the money that they need for re-election comes from lobbyist and not their voters then the principles are out the window. We all know that big pharma has gotten to them and big insurance has gotten to them so why would they change obamacare? Everybody but the consumer is on the gravy train. Folks we are screwed! There will be no changes, Trump or not. We will either do what our forefathers did at Concord or we will become Greece! Trump is part of this whole system. He is not going to throw out his cronies that he has worked with all of his life. He is going to work with them and keep the gravy flowing.