GOP Tries New Tactic in Attack on Obamacare’s Mandate

Republicans plan to tie a delay to measure that would address one of Medicare’s most vexing flaws.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (L), and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), stand together during in a media availability following a House Republican conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol, on November 2, 2011.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Clara Ritger
March 10, 2014, 9:42 a.m.

In the latest pro­pos­al to stall Obama­care’s man­date that all Amer­ic­ans have health in­sur­ance, House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor has sched­uled a Fri­day vote to tie it to the per­man­ent “doc fix.”

The vote is on a bi­par­tis­an, bicam­er­al pro­pos­al to re­peal and re­place the broken sus­tain­able growth rate for­mula used to de­term­ine Medi­care pay­ments made to phys­i­cians. That pro­pos­al — also known as the per­man­ent doc fix — has stalled as Con­gress searches for a way to pay for its $138 bil­lion price tag.

GOP Rep. Mi­chael Bur­gess of Texas is the spon­sor of the House ver­sion of the bill, which car­ries a delay of the Af­ford­able Care Act’s in­di­vidu­al man­date as its pay-for.

Delay­ing the in­di­vidu­al man­date by one year would save $9 bil­lion, the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice es­tim­ates. That’s be­cause few­er people would have health in­sur­ance or en­roll in Medi­caid, sav­ing the gov­ern­ment bil­lions of dol­lars as few­er people seek sub­sidies for in­sur­ance premi­ums or get care at all.

How long of a delay the le­gis­la­tion calls for in or­der to cov­er the cost of the per­man­ent doc fix has yet to be an­nounced. But the pro­pos­al is sure to be ve­toed by the pres­id­ent if not shot down in the Sen­ate.

Ty­ing the SGR talks to the in­di­vidu­al man­date fur­ther slows the ne­go­ti­ations on how to pay for the pro­pos­al, which had the Amer­ic­an Med­ic­al As­so­ci­ation in Wash­ing­ton last week to pres­sure con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship to get it done.

If Con­gress does not reach agree­ment on the per­man­ent doc fix by March 31, phys­i­cians who provide ser­vices to Medi­care be­ne­fi­ciar­ies face a 20 per­cent pay cut.

Passing the le­gis­la­tion would be a big achieve­ment for Con­gress, which has voted every year since 2003 to stop the cuts to doc­tors’ pay that are man­dated to take ef­fect by SGR for­mula at a cost of roughly $150 bil­lion. The per­man­ent fix car­ries a lower price tag than in pre­vi­ous years, which is why key stake­hold­ers such as the AMA and poli­cy­makers in­volved in the ne­go­ti­ations had been pos­it­ive about the po­ten­tial for a long-term solu­tion.

What We're Following See More »
Bill Murray Crashes White House Briefing Room
4 hours ago

In town to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center, Bill Murray casually strolled into the White House Briefing Room this afternoon. A spokesman said he was at the executive mansion for a chat with President Obama, his fellow Chicagoan.

CFPB Decision May Reverberate to Other Agencies
7 hours ago

"A federal appeals court's decision that declared the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau an arm of the White House relies on a novel interpretation of the constitution's separation of powers clause that could have broader effects on how other regulators" like the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Morning Consult Poll: Clinton Decisively Won Debate
8 hours ago

"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."

Twitter Bots Dominated First Debate
9 hours ago

Twitter bots, "automated social media accounts that interact with other users," accounted for a large part of the online discussion during the first presidential debate. Bots made up 22 percent of conversation about Hillary Clinton on the social media platform, and a whopping one third of Twitter conversation about Donald Trump.

Center for Public Integrity to Spin Off Journalism Arm
9 hours ago

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the nonprofit that published the Panama Papers earlier this year, is being spun off from its parent organization, the Center for Public Integrity. According to a statement, "CPI’s Board of Directors has decided that enabling the ICIJ to chart its own course will help both journalistic teams build on the massive impact they have had as one organization."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.