Health Care

Mixed Bag of Republicans Vote Against Obamacare Repeal Vehicle
GOP defectors cite deficit, lack of replacement

Dent voted against the budget resolution because of concerns about the GOP rushing to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans on Friday passed a bare-bones fiscal 2017 budget resolution with few intraparty defections, as most GOP members saw the unbalanced and long-delayed spending plan as a necessary means to an end of repealing the 2010 health care law.

The nine Republicans who voted against the measure raised concerns about either the budget not balancing, a key priority for fiscal conservatives, or the aggressive timeline of repealing the Affordable Care Act, given that the GOP has yet to present a replacement plan. The final vote was 227-198. 

House GOP Group Launches Digital Campaign for Health Care Plan
American Action Network will target 28 House districts

American Action Network is running digital ads about the House Republicans’ health care law replacement efforts in Ohio’s 4th District, held by former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An outside group affiliated with House GOP leadership is ramping up its advertising campaign for a Republican alternative to the 2010 health care law, running $400,000 in digital ads across 28 congressional districts. 

American Action Network, a conservative nonprofit advocacy organization, is launching its first digital campaign of the year Friday, when the House is expected to vote on the budget resolution that would begin the process of repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. 

House Leaders Emphasize Executive Branch's Power Over Obamacare

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., holds his weekly press conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans on Thursday emphasized that their efforts to repeal and replace the health care law will rely heavily on revised interpretations of the law that they can make administratively, a sign of the challenges in writing replacement legislation that can overcome the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.

“Let’s not forget, we now have an HHS, an administration, that is ready to work with us to fix this problem,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said at his weekly press conference. “What I think people are beginning to appreciate is we have lots of tools in front of us. It’s not just a one-and-done bill kind of a thing. That is what we’ve been walking our members through — all the options available to us to get this done.”

Republicans Not So Sure About Trump's Call for Drug “Bidding”

Rep. Charlie Dent , R-Pa., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday morning, Sept. 7, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional Republicans are downplaying or dismissing President-elect Donald Trump’s call Wednesday for the government to start “bidding” for prescription drugs.

Addressing the high price of prescription drugs is a popular bipartisan issue, but Republicans tend to favor an approach that would stimulate competition that could help bring prices down. Under the Medicare drug program, price negotiation does occur between drug companies and the insurers who administer the coverage, but the federal government is forbidden from leveraging the bargaining power of Medicare as a whole.

Progressives Outraged Over Booker, Democrats’ Vote on Prescription Drugs From Canada
12 Republicans voted for amendment to GOP budget resolution that begins dismantling of Obamacare

Sen. Cory Booker defended his vote on the amendment, saying it “didn’t adequately make sure foreign drugs meet American safety standards.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives in the Democratic Party are outraged after 13 Democrats voted against an amendment that would have allowed Americans to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, saying it’s a sign that Big Pharma has too much power in the party. 

The amendment was unlikely to pass, but critics say that’s why it should have been a safe way for Democrats to show their support for combating high drug prices.

HHS Nominee Might Not Be Confirmed Until Mid-February, Says Senator
Alexander’s timeline pushes Obamacare repeal and replace toward March

Sen. Lamar Alexander is chairman of the Senate HELP Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even as senators began grinding through a budget resolution that sets up a repeal of the 2010 health care law, the timeline for striking President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative legacy appeared to be slipping.

President-elect Donald Trump said at a news conference Wednesday in New York City that a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would come once Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price of Georgia wins confirmation.

Obamacare Replacement Preoccupies GOP as Budget Votes Near
McHenry: House has enough GOP votes to adopt resolution triggering repeal

A plan to replace the 2010 health care law will emerge after Georgia Rep. Tom Price is confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary, President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional Republicans’ struggle to take the first step toward repealing and replacing the health care law using a fiscal 2017 budget resolution intensified Wednesday, as they debated how soon to roll out a replacement and defended their coordination with their incoming president.

President-elect Donald Trump suggested in a press conference Wednesday that the repeal and replacement of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law will occur simultaneously or nearly simultaneously. While that timetable appears to defy what Republicans in the House and Senate have set out to do, top Republicans and their aides insisted that the incoming president and Congress are not at odds and that repeal and replacement will succeed.

Obamacare Markets See Growth Despite Premium Hikes
Report refutes GOP predictions of ’death spiral’ for exchanges

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell projected that as many as 13.8 million people would sign up or renew marketplace plans during this year’s open enrollment period. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than 11.5 million people have signed up for individual health insurance coverage using the marketplaces established by the health care overhaul during the current enrollment period, an increase of 286,000 people compared to the same time last year, the Obama administration reported on Tuesday.

The total includes 8.7 million who signed up through HealthCare.gov and 2.8 million who enrolled through state-based marketplaces. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill congressional Republicans cleared last year that would have repealed the health care law would have eliminated coverage for about 22 million people who receive coverage either through the marketplaces or Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor. President Barack Obama vetoed that measure, which is now serving as a starting point in the current discussions about repealing the law.

Ryan Says Obamacare Repeal, Replacement Will Happen ‘Concurrently’
Uncertainty over timeline for a replace plan bedevils House GOP

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says pieces of a health care law replacement plan could be included in the current budget reconciliation measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Tuesday that Republicans will offer a replacement plan for the 2010 health care law at the same time they repeal it, amid signs the legislative process for a repeal was encountering obstacles. 

“It is our goal to bring it all together concurrently,” the Wisconsin Republican said. 

For 20, a New Year’s Boost in House Legislative Sway
How the winners of top committee assignments made their own luck

Keep an eye peeled for these House members with plum new committee assignments, from left to right, first row: Pete Aguilar, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Katherine M. Clark, Ryan A. Costello, Carlos Curbelo; second row: Suzan DelBene, Debbie Dingell, Brian Higgins, John Moolenaar, Grace Meng; third row: Dan Newhouse, Scott Peters, Mark Pocan, Raul Ruiz, David Schweikert; fourth row: Terri A. Sewell, Scott Taylor, Tim Walberg, Jackie Walorski and Mimi Walters. (Bill Clark, Meredith Dake-O’Connor and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos. Scott Taylor courtesy Scott Taylor for U.S. Congress)

Specialization seasoned with seniority is the surest recipe for a meaningful legislative career in the House, which is more than big enough to swallow all the dilettantes and short-timers without a trace. It’s finding a substantive niche, then fitting in over the long haul, that proves perennially frustrating for many members. 

But the goal of becoming a successful and substantive lawmaker just got a whole lot easier for a score of them.

Senate Democrats Use the Floor and Facebook to Protest Obamacare Repeal
Democrats launched a coordinated push to speak out against GOP effort

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer used his leadership office to send the party message on Facebook. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats launched the first of what will likely be numerous efforts to derail Republican plans to repeal the 2010 health care law, taking to the Senate floor and social media Monday night in a talk-a-thon to portray the move as reckless and chaotic for the health care system.

“I think the point is to send a clear message to the country, to the American people that, No. 1, we’re going to do everything we can to prevent Senate Republicans from destroying the Affordable Care Act,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen said. “We’re focused on making sure that we get on the Senate floor and talk about the damaging consequences and the chaos that’s going to be created throughout the health care system.”

Kaiser Poll Shows Split on Health Law Repeal but Consensus on Costs
Most polled don’t think the changes will affect them personally

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., appear after a Jan. 4 meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol to discuss a strategy to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The American public is split on how Congress should address the future of health care, according to a new poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Forty-seven percent of people who were polled don’t think that Congress should repeal the 2010 health care overhaul. Another 28 percent of people responding do want it repealed but want to see a replacement plan before a repeal vote is taken, while 20 percent favor an immediate repeal vote with plan details to be worked out later.

Obamacare Tax on Wealthy Sparks Battle Over Fairness
Charges GOP favors a tax cut for the wealthy

Top Senate tax-writer Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said lawmakers have not agreed on an effective date for repeal of the health law surtax. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

 Republicans and Democrats are squaring off in a fight over tax fairness as the GOP develops a timetable for repealing the 3.8 percent surtax on investment income under the health care overhaul.

GOP lawmakers have long argued for elimination of the surtax, or the net investment income tax, that applies to income such as interest, dividends and capital gains for individuals making more than $125,000 or couples earning more than $250,000.

Senate Democrats Plan Late-Night Obamacare Speeches
Schumer: Health care law repeal will unleash chaos in insurance market

Capitol workers move cots in the Senate basement on Monday morning. Senate Democrats say they’ll go late into the night to speak about Republican efforts to repeal the 2010 health care law. (Todd Ruger/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats are planning to hold the Senate floor late into the night Monday to make speeches about the 2010 health care law as Republicans look to adopt a budget resolution this week, which would start the process for repealing the law.

“We cannot allow Republicans to make America sick again by repealing the ACA without a replacement plan that will ensure millions of Americans are not kicked off of their insurance, seniors do not face cuts to their Medicare, women are not denied access to care because of their gender, and many other groups, including Medicaid recipients, do not suffer,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a statement, referring to the health care law.

Ep. 35: Steps to Repealing Obamacare and the Republican Stragglers ​
The Week Ahead

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CQ Roll Call's resident budget guru Paul Krawzak spells out the steps Republicans will take to achieve a repeal of Obamacare. The fast-track approach, however, is facing resistance within the GOP, says Health reporter Erin Mershon.