ObamaCare repeal bill advances in House

Greg Nash

The House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would repeal several major ObamaCare provisions through the fast-track process known as reconciliation. 

“We're going to pass a bill that can dismantle ObamaCare and reach the president's desk,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanTrump backers lack Ryan alternative Cures bill in jeopardy amid drug pricing push Brent Budowsky: An epic battle for the future of Congress MORE (R-Wis.). “We’re going to repeal the five worst parts of the law: two mandates, two taxes and one board of bureaucrats.”

The measure would repeal ObamaCare’s individual and employer mandates for obtaining and providing insurance, along with two major taxes used to pay for the healthcare law: A 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans, called the “Cadillac Tax,” and a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices.

It would also abolish a board charged with recommending Medicare cuts if spending rises above a certain level, called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

Reconciliation will allow Republicans to get the repeal bill to President Obama because the legislation will not be subject to a filibuster in the Senate.

While Obama is sure to veto the package, Republicans are determined to show that their majority is fighting to scale back the law.

The reconciliation process is kicking into gear in an attempt to defuse this week's shutdown fight. The package will include a provision slashing federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an issue that had threatened to derail work on a government funding bill.

Democrats denounced the measure as a symbolic bill meant to try to appease conservative Republicans.

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), linked the reconciliation process to Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump backers lack Ryan alternative Ryan has little margin for error in Speaker vote Top Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns MORE’s (R-Ohio) resignation.

“Today, we are seemingly taking the next step after the Speaker’s announcement on Friday to appease the right-wing of the Republican Conference,” Levin said. “Want to avoid a government shutdown? Force the Speaker out. Want to avoid a government shutdown? Attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

Democrats denounced the Republican efforts, pointing to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections that repealing the individual mandate would reduce the number of people with insurance by 14 million in 2025. They also pointed to CBO projections that premiums would increase by 20 percent in the individual market without the mandate enticing healthier people to sign up.

Republican Rep. Kevin BradyKevin BradyGreen energy handouts don’t belong in the tax code GOP lawmakers ask IRS to explain M wasted on unusable email system Rep. Brady plans to move tax reform legislation in 2017 MORE (Texas) countered that no one would be kicked off their insurance under the bill, and that the lower projections for the insured are because the mandate would no longer be requiring people to buy insurance against their will. 

“They’re no longer being forced to,” he said. “They will choose for their families not to.”

Levin acknowledged that Democrats are split on the IPAB, but noted that its inclusion in a bill also repealing core parts of the law, like the mandate, would guarantee that Democrats would be opposed. 

“Whatever we think about IPAB within our ranks, once it becomes part of the reconciliation bill, we’re all going to vote no,” he said.