Healthcare Reform; Will They Ever Get it Right?

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as the legislative body’s new Republican majority promised.  Every single Republican voted in favor of the bill, which followed hours of debate.  The final vote tally was 245-189, and the only non-voting member was Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who remains in serious condition after being shot in Tucson, Ariz. earlier this month.  The three House Democrats who supported the repeal legislation were Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Mike Ross of Arkansas.  The repeal legislation will still need to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Even then its unlikely Obama will sign.

The next day the House voted 253-175 on a resolution that instructs four House committees to work on legislation to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with 14 Democrats supporting the measure.  Included in the resolution was one amendment from Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) to include a permanent fix to the Medicare physician payment formula. The House adopted this amendment, which received support from 428 members, with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) voting against it. Five members—Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and Don Young (R-Alaska)—did not vote.

Specifically, the resolution directs the House Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees to work up legislation that proposes changes to the existing law. It also includes 12 guidelines for the committees, including: providing people with pre-existing medical conditions with access to affordable health coverage; reforming the medical liability system to reduce unnecessary and wasteful healthcare spending; providing states greater flexibility to administer Medicaid programs; prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortions and providing conscience protections for healthcare providers; and expanding incentives to encourage personal responsibility for healthcare coverage and costs.

In another action, three Democratic senators have sent House Speaker Boehner a letter urging the House to quickly pass a measure that would repeal the controversial 1099 reporting requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The current provision requires businesses to file a 1099 Form with the Internal Revenue Service for every vendor with whom they have at least $600 in transactions and has been described as burdensome to businesses, especially small businesses.  Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota wrote in the letter, “Small businesses in our states raised concerns that in order to comply with this new requirement, which takes effect next year, businesses will have to institute new record-keeping methods.  The change is particularly onerous for small businesses, our nation’s engines of growth, who cannot afford to employ extra lawyers and accountants to comply with the new rules.”

I remind you, this is one of the provisions in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Speaker Pelosi urged “we have to pass the bill so you can found out what’s in it.”  Wow, now we get to waste taxpayer dollars and our legislative time in trying to correct something that was broken, still broken and…oh who knows…Healthcare Reform; Will They Ever Get it Right?

— Marty Hudson

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