Republicans troll Democrats with proposals to rename upcoming health care bill

Republicans troll Democrats with proposals to rename upcoming health care bill
© Greg Nash

Republicans on a key House committee are trolling Democrats with amendments to rename legislation aimed at blocking some of the Trump administration's moves on the Affordable Care Act.

The Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act, slated for a vote later this week, would block the Trump administration's October guidance to loosen restrictions on states’ abilities to waive certain ObamaCare requirements. 

Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills House GOP unveils alternative drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote MORE (R-Ore.), the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, submitted four amendments to the Rules Committee that would facetiously rename the Democrat-backed bill the "Don't Let States Innovate Act," among others.

The guidance, which has drawn opposition from Democrats and supporters of the Affordable Care Act, would allow states to more easily access the waivers and promote health plans that don’t require the same level of coverage as the federal law. Critics are concerned that the guidance could allow states to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions and undermine patient protections in other ways.

ADVERTISEMENT

Walden's options to rename the bill include: "This Bill Actually Has Nothing to do with Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act," "This Bill Limits Health Care Choices Act" and "Nothing in This Bill Would Eliminate Pre-Existing Conditions Protections Act."

Rep. George HoldingGeorge Edward Bell HoldingNorth Carolina congressman says he won't seek reelection after redistricting Democrats likely to gain seats under new North Carolina maps Education Dept. orders UNC to adjust policies after anti-Semitism complaint MORE (R-N.C.) also attempted to use humor while taking aim at the bill, submitting two amendments that would change the title of H.R. 986 to either "Nothing in This Bill Would Protect Individuals With Pre-Existing Conditions Act" or "Insert Politically Punchy Title That Doesn't Reflect the Bill Substance Act."

Walden also introduced an amendment that would replace the language of the bill with Republican-backed legislation he introduced earlier this year related to pre-existing conditions. And House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests Republicans disavow GOP candidate who said 'we should hang' Omar Nunes accuses Democrats of promoting 'conspiracy theories' MORE (R-La.) introduced an amendment that would disqualify states that don’t have born-alive protections — legal protection for infants born alive after a failed abortion — from receiving the waivers, which allow states to experiment with alternative coverage models.

Proponents of the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act — spearheaded by Reps. Ann KusterAnn McLane KusterCast and crew of 'Unbelievable' join lawmakers to advocate for reducing DNA, rape kit backlog House Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment Katherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent MORE (D-N.H.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) — argue that allowing states to promote plans that don’t require the same level of coverage as ObamaCare could be detrimental to patients. They also say the upcoming bill is necessary to ensure that patient protections remain intact.

Critics of the new bill say House Democrats are using a "misleading" bill title, arguing that blocking the use of the waivers stunts states’ abilities to innovate, expand coverage and drive down premiums. 

“The part that is interesting ... this bill makes no structural changes to improve access to or delivery of care. It limits health care choices and state innovations that are currently working to lower premiums,” a senior GOP aide told The Hill, arguing that several states used the waivers to create their own programs to bring down premiums.