The House Education and Workforce Committee (one of the committees responsible for designing bipartisan alternatives to the Affordable Care Act) held its first organizational meeting today to approve committee rules and procedures. The 17 Democrats on the panel also offered a preview into how they plan to combat GOP efforts to undermine the gains of the reform act, offering two amendments aimed at preserving health reform’s most popular provisions and the increased government investment in Pell Grant scholarships. Below is the text of the health amendment offered by Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ):
(1) the right of young adults under 26 to stay on their parents’ health plan; (2) the prohibition on health insurance issuers and group health plans against imposing annual and lifetime limits; (3) the prohibition on health insurance issuers and group health plans against rescinding an individual’s health coverage due to illness; (4) the prohibition on health insurance issuers or group health plans against denying coverage to or otherwise discriminating against individuals due to a pre-existing condition; or (5) the deficit savings of $230,000,000,000 during the 10-year period beginning after fiscal year 2011 that was achieved through the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111–148) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2011
All the Republicans voted down both amendments without discussing their contents or explaining why they disagreed with these priorities, striking a new tone in the post-repeal Congress.
Throughout last week’s repeal debate on the House floor, many Republicans hinted that they supported the aforementioned provisions but sought to repeal the entire law so they could start over in a more bipartisan fashion. They touted the Republican 2009 health care proposal (which includes the first three proposals and even offers a variation of the fourth) and hinted that they would include patient protections in a package of alternatives. Of course, failing to incorporate protections in the rules doesn’t prohibit Republicans from adding them into the alternative legislation, but today’s party-line rejection of two Democratic proposals certainly doesn’t bode well for the promised bipartisanship of the process or the priorities of the final replacement bill (should the committee ever produce one).