GOP Lawmakers Formally 'Pledge' To Repeal Health Law, And More

In their just-released campaign manifesto, "A Pledge to America," Republican lawmakers say repealing the health overhaul law would be among their goals if they retake Congress, The New York Times reports. Repeal comes alongside goals like the permanent extension of Bush tax cuts, spending caps, and the recouping of unspent money from President Obama's stimulus last year. "While the agenda is drafted broadly, offering bullet points of overarching objectives rather than detailed proposals — and any legislation championed by Republicans in the next Congress, of course, could be subject to a veto by President Obama — the document represents the most concrete presentation of Republican goals so far this year" (Herszenhorn, 9/22).

The Associated Press: The 21-page document "steers clear of specifics on important issues, such as how it will 'put government on a path to a balanced budget.' It omits altogether the question of how to address looming shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare, which account for a huge portion of the nation's soaring deficit, instead including a vague promise: 'We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs,'" (Davis, 9/23).

Los Angeles Times: "Republicans promised to 'repeal and replace' the administration's signature legislative achievement, the healthcare law. Reintroducing past GOP proposals, they would allow consumers to purchase health insurance across state lines, expand personal health savings accounts, and prohibit government spending on abortion by permanently enacting the so-called Hyde Amendment." That's among the few nods toward social issues in a document that attempts to woo independent voters who are more motivated by economic policy (Memoli and Mascaro, 9/23). 

CongressDaily: "But the pledge also acknowledges that the current healthcare law is not all bad: It borrows at least one proposal from the current law -- one that aims to overhaul one of the more nefarious insurance sector practices. The pledge calls for an end to the practice of rescissions, where health plans drop patients once they get sick, and would put an end to discrimination against individuals who have a pre-existing condition." Still, as Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said, "The bill did not bend the cost curve at all. As a matter of fact, costs are going to continue to go up" (House, 9/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Meanwhile, "Democratic congressional leaders have already begun to critique these Republican plans." While the blueprint "would keep some popular elements from the health overhaul, such as making it illegal for insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions and eliminating lifetime spending caps," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., "head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the GOP would target other popular provisions, such as one allowing children in their 20s to stay on their parents' insurance plans." Democrats also said provisions Republicans intend to keep would not be effective unless the other portions the GOP rejects are also in place (Bendavid and Langley, 9/23). 

The Washington Post examined how the GOP plan would work "on paper" and "for real:" On paper, "Republicans would pass a repeal of the law through Congress, get it signed by the president (or override his veto), and then start trying to pass their own health-care ideas," which would probably insure fewer people than the Democratic plan. Real-life version: "Congress almost never repeals a law it has passed, and the GOP would need help from plenty of Democrats in overriding an Obama veto." It's more likely they'd end up working to block some health law funding (Bacon, 9/23).

Related, earlier KHN story: GOP Plan To Change Or Repeal Health Law Could Bring New Complications (Carey, 9/20)

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