GOP on Heath Care: Repeal Quickly, Replace Slow

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

WASHINGTON -- June 17, 2012

Congressional Republicans intend to seek quick repeal of any parts of the health care law that survive a widely anticipated Supreme Court ruling, but don't plan to push replacement measures until after the fall elections or perhaps 2013.

Instead, GOP lawmakers cite recent announcements that some insurance companies will retain a few of the law's higher-profile provisions as evidence that quick legislative action is not essential. Those are steps that officials say Republicans quietly urged in private conversations with the industry.

Once the Supreme Court issues a ruling, "the goal is to repeal anything that is left standing," said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., a member of the party's leadership.

Beyond that, "we ought to go step by step to lower the cost" of health care, he added, a formula repeated by numerous other Republicans interviewed in recent days.

Across the political aisle, neither President Barack Obama nor congressional Democrats have said how they will react to a high court ruling that could wipe out the legislation they worked so hard to enact.

"We're not spending a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies," Obama said this spring at the annual meeting of The Associated Press. He expressed confidence the court would uphold the law, and neither he nor his aides have said what fallback plans are under discussion.

Among Republicans, aides to Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other key lawmakers have convened a series of meetings in recent weeks to plan a post-ruling strategy.

A Supreme Court ruling is expected within the next two weeks on a challenge to the law, which has drawn fierce opposition among most Republicans for its requirement that most individuals carry health insurance.

While three big insurance companies announced plans this past week to retain certain protections for an estimated 40 percent of all individuals who receive their coverage through work, there has been no advance word from the drug industry on how prescription costs for older people might be affected by a finding that the law is unconstitutional.

Even so, Republicans say they have no plans for assuring continuity of a provision that reduces out-of-pocket costs for seniors with high drug expenses. This coverage gap is known as "doughnut hole."

"I don't think anybody intends to get involved" in the portion of Medicare that provides prescription drug coverage. The program is "working better than we designed it," said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., referring to studies that show the program's cost is lower than was originally estimated.

The drug industry has yet to disclose its plans.

House Republicans have voted 30 times to eliminate, defund or scale back parts or all of the health law, most recently approving a measure to wipe out a tax on medical devices.

Senate Democrats have blocked nearly all of the previous attacks. Forcing another vote would allow Republicans to signal a continued commitment to supporters of repeal, while simultaneously requiring Democrats to take another stand on a measure that has failed to generate significant public support and might by then also have been found deficient by the Supreme Court.

"Democrats don't want to talk about health care between now and the election, especially Obamacare," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, referring to the law signed in 2010.

Many members of the GOP rank and file campaigned on a motto of "repeal and replace" in 2010 when it came to the law. But now, nearly two years later, they express no urgency to replace a law drafted by Democrats, and one they hope the court will kill, with a different one of their own.

"We're not going to repeat the mistakes made by the Democrats who run Washington when they passed a 2,700-page bill that no one had actually read," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, R-Ohio.

While Republicans say the recent insurance industry announcements eased the political pressure on them to act, some cited other reasons for moving carefully on replacement legislation.

With the party united around repeal of the existing law, they said they want to avoid an internal squabble over the details of any replacement legislation, at least until after the elections this fall.

In addition, they want to wait until they know whether GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney wins the White House in November.

Romney has provided few details about his plans for health care legislation. He supports repeal of the current law, in part citing a requirement for individuals to obtain coverage, even though as governor of Massachusetts he signed a law with a similar provision.

On one big-ticket item, Romney and House Republicans already have parted company.

Both criticize Obama and Democrats for cutting Medicare by $500 billion over the next decade as part of the health care law.

But Romney's aides say he wants to restore the money to Medicare, while the budget that the Republicans pushed through the House would instead put the money toward deficit reduction.

In interviews, several Republicans drew attention to recent announcement from a few insurers pledging to retain some recent changes regardless of a court ruling.

UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna said that regardless of the court's ruling, they will continue to cover preventive care such as immunizations and screenings without requiring a copayment. They also said children up to age 26 may be covered through their parents' insurance plans.

Additionally, UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc. said they will not reimpose lifetime dollar limits on benefits, a provision most important for patients with cancer and other expensive-to-treat diseases.

The actions left in question the fate of other provisions in the health care law, including a requirement for new coverage for children up to age 19 with existing medical conditions.

Nor do the voluntary announcements cover everyone.

United Health and Humana said their announcements would affect customers with individual policies and those who receive small-group coverage through work.

Workers and families who receive coverage from large employers that pay their own medical claims are unaffected. Those employers will make their own decisions how to respond to the court's ruling.

Neither company provided an estimate of how many of their customers would be affected by their announcement.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 60 percent of covered workers are in plans that are self-funded by their employers.

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  • by I've Got Mine on Jun 18, 2012 at 06:03 AM
    Better keep clinging to your guns and Bibles cause thats the only way you are going to get healthcare in the future - on your knees begging some private insurance company to save you or someone you love. Why do you like being slaves?
  • by Georgia Boy Location: Cairo on Jun 18, 2012 at 03:15 AM
    The concensus seems to be for the government to insure healthcare for all. This nation came into existence by independent people caring for themselves and helping others if they saw the need. Notice the difference in society today? Now everyone is dependent on the government to make decisions for them and care for them, and the government has proven it is totally incapable of administering ANYTHING that they don't expand, in scope and expense, far beyond what was anticipated when it was started, keeping fraudulent activity out of it, and insuring that people work who can work. It is time this nation went through all the programs with a fine tooth comb and removed all deadbeats and fraudulent participants. And this includes foreign aid to nations that thumb their noses at the United States while we shovel money into their coffers.
  • by AlsoAnon Location: Florida on Jun 18, 2012 at 02:16 AM
    1 "Vocational" child birth: why are Repub.s anti-birth control? 2 Forced to buy car insurance aren't we?
    • reply
      by GV on Jun 18, 2012 at 06:14 AM in reply to AlsoAnon
      No we aren't forced to buy auto insurance.Where'd you get that lie from?obama?
    • reply
      by Republican on Jun 18, 2012 at 06:47 AM in reply to AlsoAnon
      Republicans are VERY pro birth control. They firmly believe that if you can't feed them to keep your flippin knees together. Are you saying that you feel it is Ok for you to pay for my car insurance, my deductible - all that - so that i can drink and drive, text on my cell phone, apply makeup while driving, and watch myself in my mirror picking my nose too? Wow, I am impressed. I totally had that wrong. I figured you would not like that idea at all.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 17, 2012 at 05:24 PM
    Republicans have no plan for national health care. Republicans will fight hard for your freedom to be bankrupted by medical costs at some point in your life of the lives of your family members. Who knew?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 18, 2012 at 03:22 AM in reply to
      So because the Republicans have no plan it automatically makes the Democratic plan a good plan?
  • by Golden Opportunity Blown! Location: North Florida on Jun 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM
    The GOP has gotten themselves into a real mess if all they can come up with is Mitt Romney who invented Obamacare while he was still gov of Mass. Teddy Kennedy & Obama stole Mitt's loser healthcare plan that forces each person in each State to buy this product. Not a heck of a lot of difference in these guys Mitt-an elitus liberal far out there Mormon with weirdo religious views taking multiple wives at once, taking what is not theirs, making Mormon Church filthy rich like murdering white settlers in mid 1800s, including woman & children & stealing their land who settled it first(it's in the history books) running against another elitus do nothing who, nor his wife got off their lazy duffs, & hit the ground to help struggling families in soup kitchens, helping them with creating jobs who lost everything in worst US economic crisis. Good hard working guys like FL Gov Bob Graham don't exist who relates to We, THE PEOPLE by taking jobs as garbage collector. NothingChangesWithMittOrBarack!
  • by USF 83 Location: City of Tallahassee on Jun 17, 2012 at 11:11 AM
    The Republicans are using a scare tactic that the healthcare reform is a government takeover (socialism) to essentially scare the people out of agreeing with the reform when in-fact, HMOs are directed to administer healthcare (Blue Cross, Capital Healthcare, etc.) They also use a scare tactics that seniors will lose their physician, when actually; it’s the HMO that determines which physician on staff sees which patient. In fact, as with the present Governor, some of the most corrupt corporations control health insurance. Right now, they deny insurance to patients with pre-existing conditions so they can make more money, which is one of the very reasons reform is needed. This is what Republicans are really about, enriching the very rich by ripping off the vast middle class with no conscious regarding the harm they are doing. In this state, it is the conservative Republicans that still believe that the principles that founded a county with approximately 3.9 million citizens in 1790 should not be changed or amended to accommodate a country with over 311 million people. Remember, VOTE
    • reply
      by Eureka on Jun 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM in reply to USF 83
      USF 83, Thank you!! Thanks to your trip I have had a revelation. I now know how to fix ALL this stuff. Here is how it works; ALL the republicans you obviously hold such deep disdain for, simply quit their jobs. They stop supporting the government via their taxes, fees, and the like. They all sign up for government provided benefits. They start having children as a vocation. They spend six years getting a two-year degree on the public dole. That will do it. I'd give it a year before folks with your mindset begin to starve to death, or freeze to death in the winter, or start having to eat those welfare babies they plop out as a vocation. What do you think of that? I have news for you, and IF you were paying attention you would have no choice but to admit this truth: Those folks back in 1790? It never occurred to them that citizens of this nation would ever get to a point in their minds where *self reliance* was a nasty concept. You are right - they were absolutely wrong. 300 million people that avoid self reliance, personal responsibility, WORKING for what they want - who in their right mind would have ever guessed that was even a remote possibility . . . much less the way of life it is obviously now.
      • reply
        by USF 83 on Jun 18, 2012 at 02:53 AM in reply to Eureka
        Eureka, your point is very well taken; Republicans exhibit this psychosis, while Democrats may have gotten a glimpse; however, they lack the ability to react as they are awestruck. It is too bad that you reference the poorest group in the society, since the neo-capitalist economic theory creates this group because business owners, to boost their profits, have ruthlessly attacked wages, benefits, and working conditions. The reference to welfare babies is a direct attack on the economic system, unless you actually believe that people desire to live in shabby houses. Lastly, please check your research about the group since benefits to this group has been severely cut since the 80’s. In Florida, the group consist of single mothers that comprise the working poor, senior citizens that are indigent, war veterans that have their medical taken care of put not their living wage, and the infirmed, while they convalesce. Our forefathers did not have the vision of the economic systems theories that where created in the 19th century and came to replace religion as the cause of war. They did however created a government that fosters and promotes the health, safety, and welfare for us its citizens.
      • reply
        by Cpt FL on Jun 18, 2012 at 05:34 AM in reply to Eureka
        Put your foil hat back on.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 17, 2012 at 10:29 AM
    "Republicans intend to seek quick repeal of any parts of the health care law that survive a widely anticipated Supreme Court ruling, but don't plan to push replacement". These anarchist want to destroy and eliminate any and all that does not fit into the doctrine the GOP has had for over 100 years. They have many of you believing that your servitude to increase the power and the wealth of the leadership is the best thing for this nation and all of it`s occupants. They do not want you to have a decent, fair deal. Look out seniors and the middle class who have be reduced to poverty.
  • by Terry Location: Tallahassee on Jun 17, 2012 at 10:19 AM
    If it's a 2,700 bill that no one has read, how do the Republicans know its a bad bill. But they want to keep parts of the bill. #WorthlessRepublicans
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 17, 2012 at 01:20 PM in reply to Terry
      How does the President know this is a good bill?
  • by sick of them on Jun 17, 2012 at 09:49 AM
    You know, it doesn't matter what the criminally greedy Republicans do with "health care". It is basically non-existent in this country unless you have lots of money or a job that provides it for you. No matter what happens, the middle and lower classes will lose this fight; greed will win. Just as with banking and investing, the industry writes the rules because they have bought the legislators, lock, stock and barrel. "Obamacare" will be a failure because the Dems caved in to the health "care" industry and allowed them and the Republicans to bully them out of a single payer system. All "health insurance" companies should be banned from participating in ANY legislation regarding health care; in fact, they should be abolished and their CEOs sent to hard labor in prison, along with the majority of bankers and Wall Street CEOs. Provide a single payer system, and if some rich person wants better treatment, let them go to Somalia or North Korea.
  • by Jane on Jun 17, 2012 at 08:51 AM
    "Replace slowly" as to allow as many of the old people to pass away and thus avoid any tax increases to pay for the increased medical needs of the elderly and infirm. GOP doesn't care about old folks and this stance proves it yet again. Too bad so many of you are so blind to the truth.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 17, 2012 at 01:19 PM in reply to Jane
      Replace slowly so businesses(and the economy) can afford to migrate to the new system. The health-care law may be a good law in totality, but switching everything so quickly has increased the economic fear that businesses have and has caused many of them to sit on cash and not spend because they are waiting to see how much this will cost them. If this is done in little chunks over many years, the economy will be able to adjust much more easily.
      • reply
        by Cpt FL on Jun 18, 2012 at 05:37 AM in reply to
        Last time I checked it was staged to come into effect over the course of 5 or so years.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 18, 2012 at 03:21 AM in reply to Jane
      How many "old people" are passing away each year now> The population is getting older, so waiting just makes an older population to be covered.
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