Lawmakers Debate Obamacare Amid Shutdown

National Journal
Sophie Novack
Add to Briefcase
Sophie Novack
Oct. 3, 2013, 9:44 a.m.

As a gov­ern­ment shut­down con­tin­ues to strain agen­cies across Wash­ing­ton, Rep. Mi­chael Bur­gess says he re­mains res­ol­ute when it comes to his op­pos­i­tion to the Af­ford­able Care Act — and his de­term­in­a­tion to do something about it.

A short-term meas­ure to fund the gov­ern­ment, without lan­guage to ad­dress Obama­care, is a non­starter, he says.

“I would not sup­port it,” the Texas Re­pub­lic­an said at the Na­tion­al Journ­al Count­down to Trans­form­a­tion event Thursday. “I can’t speak for the Re­pub­lic­an con­fer­ence.”

“There was a pro­ced­ur­al vote yes­ter­day and every­one stuck to party sides,” Bur­gess said. “This was an op­por­tun­ity [to re­open the gov­ern­ment] and it didn’t hap­pen, after 48 hours of the shut­down.”

Bur­gess and Rep. Rosa De­Lauro, D-Conn., offered a kind of point-coun­ter­point on the Af­ford­able Care Act, and the shut­down dom­in­ated much of the con­ver­sa­tion. Yet neither could of­fer a clear way to re­solve dif­fer­ences over the health care law and fund­ing the gov­ern­ment.

While Bur­gess said it is feas­ible the ap­proach will be to con­tin­ue passing sep­ar­ate ap­pro­pri­ations bills “every 45 minutes un­til they pile up and the Sen­ate has to pass something,” the Sen­ate has re­jec­ted that strategy and De­Lauro was highly crit­ic­al of the piece­meal ap­proach.

“Is it con­ceiv­able that this is a way to fund the parts of gov­ern­ment [Re­pub­lic­ans] like, and not fund the parts they don’t like?” she said.

She noted that there has been de­bate over fund­ing parks, vet­er­ans’ pro­grams, and the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health, while Head Start and nu­tri­tion pro­grams have been left out of the mix. “I think it’s tak­ing [Re­pub­lic­ans] down an elect­or­al path that is a dis­aster,” she said.

Bur­gess and De­Lauro’s states are an ex­cel­lent rep­res­ent­a­tion of con­trast­ing ap­proaches to the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Con­necti­c­ut has op­ted to set up its own state-based ex­change and will ex­pand Medi­caid in 2014. The state has em­braced ef­forts to pro­mote the law, with about $6.5 mil­lion to be spent on ads and so-called nav­ig­at­ors to help people en­roll. “The more you edu­cate people, the less fear­ful they are,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to De­Lauro, there are about 300,000 un­in­sured people in Con­necti­c­ut, and the state has had about 400 ap­plic­ants to the mar­ket­place thus far. “People are ex­cited about the fact that for the first time they’ll be able to have in­sur­ance they can af­ford,” she said.

Con­necti­c­ut’s ex­change also has the fourth-highest premi­ums in the U.S., though De­Lauro said they will try to bring the state’s costs down fur­ther and was quick to point out that premi­um costs na­tion­wide are lower than ex­pec­ted.

“The amaz­ing thing is the gov­ern­ment can shut­down, but af­ford­able care is launched,” she said. “I say yes to that!”

The ap­proach to Obama­care in Texas has been dif­fer­ent. The state has de­clined to set up its own ex­change, mean­ing that a fed­er­ally run ex­change will be the de­fault. Medi­caid will not be ex­pan­ded, though the stakes are ar­gu­ably high­er than in Con­necti­c­ut. In a state of about 26 mil­lion people, roughly 25 per­cent of Tex­ans are cur­rently un­in­sured.

“Texas does have a ro­bust safety-net pro­gram,” Bur­gess said. “It re­lies on dis­pro­por­tion­ate-share fund­ing.” He said dis­pro­por­tion­ate-share hos­pit­als, which serve low-in­come res­id­ents, are con­cerned about their fund­ing be­ing used to help pay for the Af­ford­able Care Act. Be­cause Texas is not ex­pand­ing Medi­caid, these hos­pit­als will be without a re­place­ment fund­ing source.

Bur­gess said there is a need for changes in the laws already writ­ten, but he em­phas­ized the reg­u­lat­ory bur­den and the com­pressed timeline for the Af­ford­able Care Act rol­lout as prob­lems with the law.

Both law­makers brought up the rol­lout of Medi­care Part D as evid­ence to sup­port their po­s­i­tion. De­Lauro read a series of head­lines from when the pro­gram first began, to show it too was con­tro­ver­sial when it began. Bur­gess said Obama­care has not fol­lowed the ex­ample of the Medi­care Part D rol­lout, which he says was bet­ter co­ordin­ated.

Both law­makers ac­know­ledged there will be a wait-and-see peri­od to eval­u­ate the law. De­Lauro said there would be glitches, but that of­fi­cials can “work the sys­tem to fig­ure out how to best put it in­to place.” Bur­gess said meas­ur­ing suc­cess would be dif­fer­ent, de­pend­ing on the party.

“There will be a dif­fer­ent threshold de­pend­ing on one’s feel­ing of the law,” he said.

With Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats still far apart on a gov­ern­ment fund­ing meas­ure, law­makers said the shut­down could drag on.

Asked when the gov­ern­ment will re­open, Bur­gess replied, “Later.”

What We're Following See More »
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
3 days ago
THE LATEST
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
3 days ago
BREAKING
MANAFORT AND FLYNN
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
5 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
BUSINESSES CAN’T PLEAD FIFTH
Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."

×
×

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.

Login