House Republicans will be prepared with a plan to replace ObamaCare with free-market alternatives after the Supreme Court delivers its decision in June. The High Court is planning to hold oral arguments on the healthcare law in March.
Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pennsylvania), who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and chairs its Subcommittee on Health, said that Republicans will be ready for the open window provided by a Supreme Court ruling regardless of the nature of that decision.
Congressman Pitts said he expects the High Court to strike down the individual mandate, but not the entire law. He added that it is also possible the Court could say that federal tax law precludes its decision on the mandate’s constitutionality until after 2015. “We’ll have a window of opportunity with everyone looking to explain that the Affordable Care Act is not fully implemented yet…We’ll use that opportunity and that window to discuss the full ramifications of the Affordable Care Act,” Rep. Pitts said.
Rep. Pitts, who has a Heritage Action for America score of 79%, indicated that the Republican plan will include long-standing GOP priorities, such as limits on medical malpractice suits, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and expansion of the use of health savings accounts. In addition, his committee plans the following:
- A bill to be sent to the House floor this spring which will repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the “expert” panel charged with cutting Medicare payments to health providers.
- Continue to urge a roll-back of the section of ObamaCare that prohibits states from cutting their Medicaid eligibility until 2014.
- Oversight hearings on the Obama administration’s approach to the definition of “essential” health benefits.
- A major Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reauthorization by June 30, ahead of the September deadline when the current reauthorization expires.
Congressman Pitts indicated that Republicans do not plan to preserve the requirement that insurers cover people who have pre-existing conditions. Instead, the GOP will propose state-based pools in which the government would pay costs for the very ill who require the most care, rather than requirements for coverage by private insurers, a situation that leads to higher insurance costs for everyone.
Though Republicans should be praised for coming up with a plan to reform healthcare in anticipation of the SCOTUS’ decision, we can hardly expect that any “replacement” of ObamaCare will go smoothly if the Court declares that either the mandate or the entire law is unconstitutional. Sadly for the nation, we have an administration that has demonstrated it cares little for the rule of law or the Constitution. Should there be a decision that the law is unconstitutional in its entirety or in part, we cannot expect that the current administration will comply with the decision. As we have seen on many occasions already, this president is likely to thumb his nose at a ruling that is unfavorable to him, using his czars and executive orders to “get around” the ruling in some way in order to continue implementation of his signature legislation.
In addition, as we have also seen, a Republican healthcare reform bill will not likely be entertained by a Democratic-led Senate which could be more concerned about injury to its ego, following a perceived “defeat” by the Supreme Court, rather than responsibility to the citizens of the nation. If a GOP-proposed healthcare reform bill is considered, there will likely be demands, by liberal members of Congress, for government-funded abortion and other “pet” issues in exchange for passage. It is unlikely the president would sign a bill that did not contain some “gifts” to his liberal base.
It is good for Republicans to begin the discussion of free market healthcare reform. But, reliance upon the decision of the High Court to rid the nation of this overreaching law will likely lead to disappointment. All the more reason to elect more conservative members of Congress and a conservative President with vision who will fully repeal this onerous legislation and lead us into a new era of liberty.