Politico: Deal struck on ACA, Planned Parenthood
Deal struck on ACA, Planned Parenthood
The budget agreement reached late Friday night will not defund either the health care law or Planned Parenthood, but the Senate has agreed to take separate votes on both measures.
It’s a solution that allows Republicans to say they’ve been heard on both issues but also allows Senate Democrats to stick to their line that those kinds of measures should be handled through legislation, not spending bills. Both measures are also sure to fail in the Senate, just as a vote to repeal the health care law failed earlier this year.
In return, though, Senate Democrats made a key concession: They’ve agreed to defund the “Free Choice Vouchers” part of the health care law, which would have allowed workers to take their employers’ health insurance contributions and go to the new exchanges if their coverage cost too much.
The provision, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would have let people use their employers’ money in the exchanges if their coverage would have cost between 8 percent and 9.8 percent of their annual income.
It’s a big loss for Wyden that comes so soon after President Barack Obama endorsed his proposal with Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to give states waivers from most of the law’s mandates in 2014 if they can find better ways to expand coverage. A Wyden aide said he’s “not happy, to say the least.”
According to Speaker John Boehner’s office, the agreement also would deny the Obama administration’s request for additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service — a decision that could hinder the agency’s efforts to prepare to enforce the health care law.
In addition, the agreement will require several studies on the impact of the health care law, according to Boehner’s office. There will be studies of the law’s impact on premiums, the waivers the administration has given to limited-benefit health plans, the comparative effectiveness research funds in the law and the 2009 stimulus package, and the cost of the contractors who have been hired to implement the law.
Republicans will use those studies to keep up their drumbeat of criticism of the law, even if they can’t block it outright. A summary of the agreement from Boehner’s office boasts that the studies will “generate new tools for the fight to repeal Obamacare by requiring numerous studies that will force the Obama administration to reveal the true impact of the law’s mandates.”
Boehner will have to make the most he can of those concessions, since many rank-and-file Republicans will be disappointed that he had to drop the health care and Planned Parenthood defunding riders that had passed the House.
One House Republican freshman, Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, has already registered a protest by voting against the short-term continuing resolution the House passed late Friday night to keep the government open until the long-term spending bill passes.
“This agreement lacks many of the important bipartisan policy provisions my colleagues and I supported: stopping Obamacare, rolling back the job-killing EPA and defunding Planned Parenthood,” Huelskamp said in a statement. “We cannot let our budgetary process be held hostage by the special interests that fuel and fund the left."
The budget agreement will also include a ban on funding of abortions in the District of Columbia, as a consolation prize to Republicans who wanted to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.
This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro at 8:37 a.m. on April 9, 2011.