A U.S. House panel is trying to cut the funding that would be available to would-be organizers of a new type nonprofit, member-owned health insurer.
Members of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) voted Wednesday to approve a draft bill that would rescind $3 billion in funding that Congress has provided for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
The draft bill also would prohibit HHS from using Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) program management funding to operate the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), the agency now in charge of implementing many PPACA provisions.
John Morrison, president of the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs (NASHCO), Helena, Mont., says in a statement about the proposed CO-OP funding cut that HHS already has promised 17 CO-OP organizers about $1.3 billion in loans.
That amount "is more than would be left for the program if this proposal were to become law," Morrison says. "Instead of working to improve the health care system in our country in a pragmatic and bipartisan way -- which is what health CO-OPs are currently undertaking -= the members of the subcommittee who voted for this legislation seem to be focused on creating a political issue for November."
Morrison said CO-OP organizers include Republicans as well as Democrats.
Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., chairman of the subcommittee, said the bill draft would promote a pro-job growth fiscal environment by eliminating duplicative and ineffective programs.
"The president’s misguided health care law is one example of how this administration is making things worse for all Americans," Rehberg said in his opening statement. "It is driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire workers. The only way to change this is by repealing the president’s health care law in its entirety. This committee cannot repeal Obamacare directly. But we can prevent it from being further implemented with taxpayer dollars we have jurisdiction over. The legislation therefore prevents the secretary of Health and Human Services from using any funding in this bill to continue to implement Obamacare. It also rescinds unspent funds that have already been made available in the health care law itself. These dollars are directed to other, higher priority programs."
Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., the highest ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, said earlier in comments on the text of the draft that it "represents another ill-fated attempt by House Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act."
“This bill is an extremely partisan proposal, stands little chance of even being brought up on the House floor, and will rightly be disregarded by both the Senate and the president," Dicks said.