Senate GOP advances bill targeting ObamaCare

Senate GOP advances bill targeting ObamaCare
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Senate appropriators on Tuesday advanced a $153.2 billion bill out of subcommittee that chips away at ObamaCare, days before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a key aspect of the healthcare law.

The measure would fund the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and Education in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Those departments would receive $3.6 billion less than Congress enacted for this year and a whopping $14.5 billion less than President Obama’s request.

Republicans included language that would block funding for the ObamaCare Risk Corridor program and block discretionary funding for state-based insurance exchanges.

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The measure would also require the administration to publish information about the number of employees, contractors and activities involved in the implementation of the healthcare law.

By the end of next week, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a key portion of ObamaCare. A ruling against the administration could take away subsidies for people in 37 states to buy ObamaCare on state-based health exchanges.

“This year’s Labor-HHS appropriations bill prioritizes programs that will provide a significant benefit to all Americans and, most importantly, provides the National Institutes of Health with a $2 billion increase to make critical life-saving medical treatments and high-quality cures available to all Americans,” said Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMcConnell: Senate won't override Trump veto on shutdown fight Senate immigration talks fall apart Emergency declaration option for wall tests GOP MORE (R-Mo.), the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the bill.

His Democratic counterpart, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySen. Murray says Washington behavior reminds her of former preschool students Senate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal MORE (D-Wash.), said she is “deeply disappointed” with the legislation.

“While I appreciate Chairman Blunt’s interest in increasing research investments, this bill would make deep cuts to middle class priorities like healthcare, education, job training, worker protection programs, women’s health, and more.

The bill, for example, would cut HHS funding by $646 million to $70.4 billion.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would receive 28 percent less, or a $1.15 billion cut.

Murray said a cut of this magnitude would “cripple” the administration’s ability to operate ObamaCare programs and manage the government's healthcare programs for seniors and the poor.

While NIH would receive a funding boost, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would get a nearly 4 percent cut, of $251 million.

The Social Security Administration would receive a $185 million cut, said Murray, who explained that it could result in a furlough of up to two weeks for that agency’s staff.

Under the bill, the Labor Department would receive $11.4 billion, a $575 million decrease from 2015, and the Education Department would receive $65.5 billion, which is $1.7 billion less than current levels.

Murray blasted policy provisions, known as riders, in the bill.

One provision would prohibit 2015 dietary guidelines from moving forward “unless they are solely nutritional and dietary in nature and based on a preponderance of scientific evidence.”

Others would prevent the National Labor Relations Board from moving forward with certain standards, decisions or rules, including one that would allow employees to vote electronically in union elections.

Altogether, the bill would eliminate 44 government programs, which amounts to $1.26 billion in cuts.

House Republicans unveiled their version of the measure last week, containing slightly less than the Senate’s allocation.