Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) has offered an amendment to the continuing resolution that would destabilize federal health reform by blocking any spending that can be used for “any employee, officer, contractor, or grantee of any department or agency” funded by the Affordable Care Act. The measure would “block about $41 million in spending to implement the federal health-reform law through September” and is expected to be introduced on the floor later today. Here is the full text:
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for any employee, officer, contractor, or grantee of any department or agency funded by title VIII of division B of this Act to implement the provisions of Public Law 111–148 or title I or subtitle B of title II of Public Law 111–152.
Rather than defunding any specific provisions, Rehberg is going after the discretionary funds that are needed to implement it. Should the House adopt this amendment and it survive in the Senate, the Department of Health and Human Services would have to stretch its $1 billion implementation fund to maintain the hundreds of employees responsible for drafting regulations and maintaining the ACA — an impossible task given the fund’s other obligations.
Of the more than 500 employees responsible for implementing the law, an untold number would find themselves without a job and the law itself would be seriously hampered. Not only would implementation screech to a halt, but many of the existing regulations — that have not yet been finalized — would also be jeopardized. Rehberg is effectively deregulating the health care sector by defunding the regulators and thereby protecting himself from the charge that he’s directly rescinding some of the laws most popular consumer protections.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said today that he didn’t want anyone to lose their job. “I don’t want anyone to lose their job, whether they’re a federal employee or not,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference. “But come on, we’re broke.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the number-five Republican in House leadership, has also offered an amendment that would “prevent the Internal Revenue Service from spending any funds on implementing the law.”