Democrats turn routine review into assault on GOP's healthcare agenda


Democrats' attempt to rewrite the committee's oversight plan almost mirrors calls for more oversight of the healthcare reform law and its regulations that Republicans made repeatedly when they were in the minority. 

Right off the bat, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) - the top Democrat on the Health subcommittee - brought up an amendment requiring the committee to "examine how many children would lose healthcare coverage under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program under the Republican budget."

The irony wasn't lost on Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessShimkus announces he will stick with plan to retire after reconsidering Shimkus says he's reconsidering retirement Shimkus says he's been asked to reconsider retirement MORE (R-Texas), who offered a counter-amendment requiring an analysis of how many children with private coverage would be forced to go into Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program under the healthcare reform law.

"We did not properly vet that in the previous Congress," he said. 

Burgess further argued that the Republican budget is a vision statement rather than a specific policy proposal. Furthermore, he said, the Senate is unlikely to take action on it "because they never do."

Pallone countered that Republicans appeared to be "hiding" from the budget they passed in April. The budget would replace Medicare with subsidies for private insurance starting in 2022 and would turn Medicaid into a block grant program to states.

Burgess' amendment passed along party lines; Pallone's failed.

Other Democratic proposals to hold hearings on the budget's impact on nursing homes, seniors' premiums and veterans' families also failed to gain traction.