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  • Ways And Means Advances Reconciliation Bill To Unravel Obamacare

    The House Ways and Means Committee advanced a reconciliation bill Tuesday in an attempt to  dismantle five key components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    If the legislation is passed using the rare measure, which would allow the Senate to pass the legislation with just a majority vote, it would repeal individual and employer mandates, the Cadillac tax, the medical device tax and eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

    The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the changes would reduce the deficit by approximately $44.2 billion over the next 10 years.

    Republicans on the committee said taking away healthy people’s option to refrain from buying health insurance increases costs for everyone.

    The Congressional Budget Office found approximately 14 million less people would be insured, a number which Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Thomas Barthold said reflects both people who choose not to buy insurance and individuals who would lose their coverage.

    “The problem with health care is it’s too expensive. And for too many people, the law makes it more expensive—by taking away people’s choices,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, the committee’s chairman. “If your insurance company charges too much, what are you going to do? They all charge too much, and now you have to buy.”

    Democrats expressed concern that by removing the provisions it would destabilize the overall functionality of the bill.

    “You take away the motor and the car just isn’t functional,” said Rep. Charlie Rangel.

    While some provisions would be eliminated, certain aspects of the bill, including the ability for adults over the age of 22 to stay on their parent’s health insurance plans and the requirement for insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, would stay in tact.

    A select number of Democrats joined with their counterparts on the right in their distaste for the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a 15-member government agency established to recommend cuts to Medicare and Medicaid when spending reaches a certain level.

    Rep. Loretta Sanchez said while she sees the Affordable Care Act as an overall success she thinks there is room for improvement.

    “Repealing the IPAB and eliminating the board of 15 unelected and largely unaccountable individuals whose primary purpose is to cut Medicare is to me a no brainer,” the California Democrat said, adding that she would vote for IPAB repeal in committee but against it “when this good policy is inevitably hijacked and patched into a vehicle that’s not good, and designed to placate the far-right wing of the party.”

    Removing the mandates passed the committee along party lines in a 23-14 vote with Democrats rejecting the measure. The House Budget Committee will take on the bill in coming weeks.

    Ranking member Sander Levin said the bill would never pass the upper chamber, a comment Ryan disagreed with, saying reconciliation is the best chance to get the bill on the president’s desk and a tool that should be used more often.

    “We really do believe this law, this entire law is doing great damage,” he said. “It is pricing healthcare out of reach for millions of people, it is hastening the fiscal problems we have in this country, it is reducing choice and competition, it is  consolidating providers, it is denying choices for individual families and it’s putting businesses out of business and pushing people out of their employer-sponsered healthcare.

    If the bill passes the Senate, it will be the first of many attempts to in the House to unravel the legislation, but could still be vetoed by the executive branch.

    Follow Juliegrace Brufke on Twitter

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