On Wednesday, House Republican leaders pulled a bill that, according to the Wall St. Journal, was a “cornerstone of their effort to ‘repeal and replace'” ObamaCare, President Obama’s signature health care legislation.
According to the WSJ, the bill was abruptly shelved due to both conservative and Democrat opposition. The legislation would have abolished a $4 billion fund to pay for public health initiatives and direct the money instead to a program that would assist people with pre-existing conditions.
Entitled the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, the bill seemed to divide Republicans, drawing praise from some and criticism from others.
In February, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Obama administration would be ending enrollment in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) due to financial issues. PCIP was designed as a temporary program to help Americans with pre-existing conditions until the ObamaCare state exchanges were functioning.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Helping Sick Americans Now Act would mandate that Sebelius remove $4 billion out of ObamaCare’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, a slush fund used to generate pro-ObamaCare propaganda, and spend that money, instead, on re-instituting the PCIP.
The bill was opposed by some conservative activists, such as Club for Growth and Erick Erickson of RedState, largely because of the concern that it would extend a part of ObamaCare which, ultimately, conservatives want to repeal.
“Fiscal conservatives should be squarely focused on repealing ObamaCare, not strengthening it by supporting the parts that are politically attractive,” said Club for Growth in a statement calling for the bill’s defeat.
However, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), said the legislation was part of a broader effort to expand his party’s appeal following their 2012 election defeats. The bill was opposed by Democrats, and the White House had promised to veto the measure should it pass the House and Senate.
On Wednesday, GOP leaders held a closed-door party meeting, and promised changes to the bill to shore up more conservative support. The accommodations included making the abolition of the public health “slush” fund permanent, not just limited to one year.
Ultimately, however, House Republican leaders pulled the bill, saying that further consideration would be postponed at least until after next week’s recess.
Moderate Republicans have acknowledged that some elements of ObamaCare are popular, such as the pre-existing conditions plan, and have decided that the best way to increase their popularity at the polls is to adopt more modest health care reforms.
Erick Erickson, editor of conservative RedState, referred to the Republicans’ proposed legislation as, “The Republicans have decided to intercept the Democrats’ political football and make a touchdown for the Democrats.”
The Helping Sick Americans Now Act is a great sounding law that lets the GOP contrast themselves with Barack Obama on health care. But let me explain in the simplest terms what it actually does. It fixes part of ObamaCare that the Democrats designed. It makes ObamaCare less bad, more palatable, and more likely to stick around instead of collapsing under its own weight as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and others have kept saying it would.
Erickson asserted that, by proposing the measure, House Republicans were attempting to “appear likable instead of effective.” He concluded, “The GOP should not want to fix ObamaCare at all.”
“Only a bunch of idiots in Washington D.C. in the Republican Party could look at the rising animosity of the American people toward ObamaCare and all its costs and burdens and say, ‘By God let’s fix it!'” Erickson said.