Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Democrats Willing to Tinker With Health Care Law

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price said he was surprised by the Democratic support to scrap the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Last week, Pallone blasted the GOP’s repeal efforts as “an effort by the other side to continue its political game of defacing the Affordable Care Act.”

Republicans have taken a piecemeal approach since last year to pick away at the law. Their previous effort came last month, when the House voted to undo the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, a long-term care section of the law that the administration itself had deemed unworkable. Twenty-eight Democrats joined 239 Republicans to support a repeal of that provision.

The health care law turns 2 years old March 23, and the Supreme Court’s proceedings are expected to occur shortly after that milestone. While the arguments were likely to coincide with budget debates in the House, the Budget Committee might not pass its budget resolution before oral arguments conclude. The IPAB repeal, with companion legislation sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), could provide the best messaging tool for the GOP during that last week in March.

“I think the American people understand this bill is terribly flawed and needs to go away. And although we would have liked to have greater recognition for the repeal bill we already took, it’s clear the American people want us to continue with our push,” Price said.

Democrats contend the timing is purely political. And while they acknowledge that the health care debate has caused Democrats heartburn and intraparty squabbling in the past Congress, it remains a hallmark of the party’s platform, and leaders intend to defend it.

“Obviously, there’s differences of opinion, as you know,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Tuesday during his weekly briefing with reporters. “This was a Senate provision, you understand. It was not in the House bill, and of course, we did not conference on the bill.”

The Maryland Democrat taunted Republicans for failing to overturn the health care reform law outright, noting that just three members of his Caucus voted for outright repeal last year.

“I think there’s overwhelming sentiment to fix some parts of it,” Hoyer acknowledged. “But I think there’s very, very strong support in the Democratic Party, and I believe that citizens are coming to that more and more as they see the benefits of that accruing to seniors in terms of their prescription-drug bill being reduced.”

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