As Obamacare implementation continues to be a slow-motion train wreck, Republicans are grappling with how best to respond to the situation. They don’t want to do anything to help prop up a failing program, but they need to show the American people they have workable health care policies, too.
Enter the Helping Sick Americans Now Act scheduled for a vote in the House on Wednesday. Back in February, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the Obama administration would be ending enrollment in the Pre-Existing Condition Plan, which was designed as a temporary program to help Americans with pre-existing conditions until the Obamacare insurance exchanges were up and running.
The Helping Sick Americans Now Act would force Sebelius to take $4 billion out of Obamacare’s Prevention and Public Health Fund (the slush fund used to produce pro-Obamacare propaganda), and spend that money re-instituting the Pre-Existing Condition Plan.
The Club for Growth has key voted the Helping Sick Americans Now Act a “no” vote. They write: “This proposal would further extend the federal government’s role in healthcare. Because this bill eliminates a previous requirement for enrollees to be uninsured for six months, it creates the moral hazard of avoiding insurance until it is needed and provides an extra incentive for people to enroll in federally-run insurance.”
However, most other conservatives are lining up in favor of the bill.
National Review‘s Yuval Levin writes:
What House Republicans now propose to do is to eliminate four years’ worth of funding from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to allow the risk pool to continue accepting new beneficiaries. It’s a way to undo one of the more egregious little pieces of the law and enable what is effectively an alternative to the Obamacare system to continue functioning at least until 2014. It allows Republicans to make the case for high-risk pools (especially for their approach to such pools — as embodied in the House Republican alternative to Obamacare from 2010 and essentially every other conservative health-care proposal in the past half decade), it allows them to highlight another element of Obamacare’s failed design, and it allows them to force the Democrats to choose between funding advertising for their coming train wreck of a health reform or supporting ongoing access to coverage for actual sick Americans. …
The bill is a small but meaningful example of how it might be possible to simultaneously remove some elements of Obamacare while highlighting conservative alternatives in the period until conservatives have a chance to finally rid the nation of this travesty of health reform and put in place a genuine market-based approach.
Freedom Works Dean Clancy writes:
Contrary to the assertions of some, H.R. 1549 doesn’t “fix,” “expand,” or otherwise “improve” ObamaCare. Instead, it effectively cannibalizes ObamaCare to impede its implementation. The bill would transfer $4,000,000,000 (four billion dollars) from an ObamaCare implementation slush fund to a program called the Pre-Existing Condition Plan, or PCIP. …
Now, I agree with those conservatives who hold that preex pool programs should be state- rather than federally run. But the harm here is slight, because PCIP is scheduled to expire on December 31st of this year. It’s a temporary subsidy, remember.
H.R. 1549 should be viewed as a tactical maneuver in a larger war, cannibalizing the implementation of ObamaCare exchanges in order to gain leverage in the larger fight for health care freedom.
The Galen Institute‘s Grace Maire Turner:
One of the biggest — but highly inaccurate — criticisms of Republicans is that they don’t have a plan to fix the very real problems in the health sector. But the high-risk pools have been part of the House leadership’s reform plan since before ObamaCare was enacted. And high-risk pools are designed to hold down the cost of private insurance by removing the most expensive people from the pool.
This safety net makes sense politically. It is offering a solution that helps vulnerable people. It redirects existing ObamaCare spending to actually helping sick people. It reduces the deficit. And it should be able to garner bi-partisan support.