House Passes Student Loan Plan That Siphons Health Law's Prevention Trust Fund

The student loan issue has become a politically charged showdown with the health law in the middle of the controversy.

The Associated Press: Analysis: Student Loan Agreement? Not So Fast.
In the political campaigns still taking shape, President Barack Obama, Republican challenger Mitt Romney and lawmakers of both parties say they want to protect college students from a sharp increase in interest rates on federally subsidized loans. ... [But] what might have looked like a relatively simple matter mushroomed into a politically charged veto showdown that touched on the economy and health care, tax cuts and policies affecting women (Espo, 4/30).

Boston Globe: House Approves Republican-Backed Student Loan Proposal
[Friday,] the House approved by a 215-195 margin a largely Republican-backed proposal to extend college loan subsidies by siphoning funding from health care programs authorized by the president's health care overhaul legislation (Calvan, 4/27).

MarketWatch: House Defies Veto Threat, Passes Loan Bill
Defying a White House veto threat, the House of Representatives on Friday passed a Republican bill to keep interest rates on federal loans carried by college students from doubling on July 1. The nearly $6 billion cost of the House bill is paid for by taking money out of a prevention and public-health fund included in President Barack Obama's health-care law, a move opposed by many Democrats. Republicans pointed out that Democrats have voted to tap the fund to prevent reductions in payments to Medicare doctors (Schroeder, 4/27).

CBS News: WH Threatens Veto On Student Loan Bill Because Of Health Reform Repeal
"This is a politically-motivated proposal and not the serious response that the problem facing America's college students deserves," the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement (Condon, 4/27).

The Hill: Boehner Says Obama 'Picking Fake Fights' With GOP Lawmakers
CNN host Candy Crowley pressed (House Speaker John) Boehner on why he has insisted that Congress pay for extending the low student loan rate by cutting a fund for preventative healthcare. ... Crowley said Democrats argue Congress should pay for the student loans by closing tax loopholes for oil companies and that slashing the health fund would cut services for women's health. "That is just nonsense," Boehner said. "There is no women's health issue here" (Sasso, 4/29).

Politico: 5 Prevention Programs GOP Hopes To Target
Here’s a look at five programs currently funded that could find themselves without cash, depending on how this fight plays out. Tobacco prevention ... Suicide prevention ... Community transformation grants ... Immunization ... Health care-associated infections (Smith, 4/29).

In other Capitol Hill news -

Modern Healthcare: House Proposal Would Reform Medical Liability
The House Judiciary Committee has approved a proposal that includes earlier-passed medical liability reform legislation as a way to find savings to avoid arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to federal programs next year... In a 16-14 vote, the panel approved the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare, or HEALTH, Act of 2011, which Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a physician, introduced last year (Zigmond, 4/27).

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