House GOP Serves Up Reheated Proposal To ‘Repeal And Replace’ New Health Care Law

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)
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House Republicans are returning to their promise of repealing the Democrats’ health care reform law with a retread of their own alternative plan that a Congressional Budget Office analysis last year determined would provide coverage for next to no one. Just in time for the midterm elections, the Republicans introduced legislation to scrap “Obama care” — even parts that voters like — and sub in their own version.

As a refresher, their plan would let people buy insurance across state lines, give states more power and would include tort reform to end so-called “junk lawsuits” that the Republicans say make health care costs more expensive. The CBO score last fall found the GOP plan would cover just 3 million more people “leaving about 52 million” without insurance at about the same as the 2009 share of uninsured people. It would reduce premiums by between zero and three percent, CBO said. To hear the Republicans tell it, the measure would decrease premiums by “up to 20 percent.” It reduces the deficit over time, but so does the Democrats’ law.

After threatening for months to repeal the new health care reform law , the official Republican repeal effort — blessed by leadership last week — is in the form of House bill 5424. It’s got 30 Republican co-sponsors and a fancy description:

To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and enact the Common Sense Health Care Reform and Affordability Act.

But anyone trying to actually “read the bill” — a favorite command from Republicans during the health care debate last fall and this spring — gets an error message:

The text of H.R.5424 has not yet been received from GPO
Bills are generally sent to the Library of Congress from the Government Printing Office a day or two after they are introduced on the floor of the House or Senate. Delays can occur when there are a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large bill has to be printed.

To be fair, it’s a Memorial Day break for Congress, and they dropped the bill Thursday. But the “Common Sense” replacement part is actually going to be the Republican alternative health care plan they presented last year.

A Democratic Hill staffer sent me their breakdown of the GOP proposal, charging it would add $75 billion to the deficit, reduce the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by at least 10 years, reopen the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole.’ Democrats are framing the repeal effort as the Republicans wanting to roll back all the good elements that have already kicked in, but a GOP aide says a portion of their plan is the same as the new law because it also would ban insurers from discriminating based on preexisting conditions and allow children to stay on their parents’ insurance longer.

Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA) said his bill shows “Republicans are listening” to the town halls and angry voters and insisted in a statement that it’s “essential that we repeal this massive government intrusion into Americans’ health care which promises to skyrocket costs even further.” Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), meanwhile, said the replacement bill includes “sensible, step-by-step reforms.”

We’ve tried to get more details from Herger and GOP leadership, but haven’t had much luck. The bill dropped as a new poll shows 42 percent would leave the bill as is and repeal nothing and as more data suggests Americans want to give it a chance.

The Associated Press reported that even though the new health care law itself isn’t popular, voters have a “nuanced outlook” on letting the measure play out and make changes as needed and noted that independents are starting to like the law more. Some GOPers tell me they believe the polls aren’t fairly worded, and hinted they’ve seen internal partisan polls showing broader support.

Doug Thornell, a spokesman for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, was quick to blast the GOP plan: “This 9-page campaign pamphlet is a bill only health insurance companies would love and isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.”

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