By Elise Viebeck - 06/12/14 12:24 PM EDT
House Republicans sought to open a new line of attack on ObamaCare Thursday by criticizing narrow doctor and hospital networks on some exchange plans.
"This trend is particularly dangerous for those dealing with serious diseases that may have to go out-of-network," said House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) at a hearing on the issue.
GOP lawmakers blamed the healthcare law rather than insurance companies, saying that new requirements and costs are forcing plans to limit the providers they cover.
Despite their criticism, however, few Republicans explicitly called for repealing the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, underscoring the party's change in tone since the law recovered from its botched rollout.
Democrats, meanwhile, expressed openness to tweaking the law to encourage wider networks while calling the hearing a political stunt.
"I really can't take Republicans' criticism too seriously today," said Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). "This is a hearing that is all politics and no substance."
Dems also argued with the GOP's previously stated goal of repealing the law, arguing that depriving people of coverage will do more to limit access than will narrow networks.
ObamaCare has receded as an issue on Capitol Hill over the last several months since the administration succeeded in enrolling more than 8 million people on the exchanges.
Conservative lawmakers hoped that Republicans would offer an alternative to the law this summer and hold a floor vote on the measure.
But this outcome is seen as unlikely with the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who will step down from his leadership post at the end of July.