Author Topic: The Republicans’ New Obamacare Squabble  (Read 307 times)

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The Republicans’ New Obamacare Squabble
« on: November 12, 2013, 01:50:21 AM »

‘I’m going to oppose any effort to bring this to the floor just as a messaging vote,” Ron Johnson says of his “If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It” Act. The Wisconsin senator isn’t interested in giving Democrats a “cover vote” and wants the legislation to move forward only “if it has a chance of passage.” It’s a not-so-subtle jab at the tea-party senators who last month led an unsuccessful charge to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Johnson’s bill — and similar legislation introduced in the House by Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) — is threatening to reopen the wounds of the government shutdown that had GOP lawmakers openly feuding a few weeks ago. Republicans once again find themselves at loggerheads over exactly how to strike at the president’s health-care law.

The House and Senate bills differ, with Upton’s legislation taking a broader swipe at the law. It would allow all plans that existed on the individual market on January 1, 2013, to stay in effect through 2014, but also would go a step further, giving everybody — not just those who had the plans previously — the opportunity to purchase them. The Johnson bill, by contrast, would merely allow individuals to keep, in perpetuity, plans they had at any point between the enactment of Obamacare and December 31, 2013.

The Senate proposal hews closely to President Obama’s oft-repeated promise that if you like your plan you can keep it. That’s intentional: According to Johnson, his version stands a greater chance of attracting the Democratic support necessary to pass it into law. “I like what the House is trying to do there; I was just trying to narrowly focus my bill on trying to keep that promise that President Obama made for as many Americans as possible and not go beyond that,” he tells me. “I’m trying to actually attract Democrats’ support and make sure that they have no excuse to say, ‘That doesn’t just honor that promise, that goes beyond that promise.’”

The House is set to vote on — and, in all likelihood, to pass — Upton’s bill this week. In the lower chamber, the Michigan congressman has peeled off support from the GOP’s “suicide caucus,” the 80-member faction that signed an August 21 letter to House speaker John Boehner and majority leader Eric Cantor urging them to use the threat of a government shutdown to defund Obamacare. Thirty-three of the signatories, including some of the most vocal members of the defund movement, Republican Study Committee chairman Steve Scalise among them, are backing the strategic shift and co-sponsoring the bill.

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