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Republicans Put Forth a Closed Rule for Repealing Health Care Reform

January 7, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The House Republican majority gets started in earnest today on their push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. On the schedule for today in the House is the rule that will set the procedural framework for next week’s votes on H.R.2, the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Act” and its counterpart H.Res.9, “instructing certain committees to report legislation replacing the job-killing health care law.” This is the first rule on significant legislation that the new Republican majority is bringing to a vote, but, contrary to their pledge to be more open about committee action and amendments, they are using a closed rule that is more restrictive than most and skipping committee action entirely.

The rule does not allow any votes on the 30 amendments that Democrats submitted to the Rules Committee. The only amendment that will be in order is one from Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor [R, VA-7]. It’s the only amendment that was offered by a Republican, but we don’t even know what it does because it has not been made publicly available on the Rules Committee site or elsewhere (I have a Twitter request in with Cantor for the text). The Cantor amendment won’t even be given its own vote. Under the rule it will be deemed passed if the rule itself is passed.

The health care repeal bill has also not gone through the normal committee process, which is where most of the true debate and work in the legislative process usually takes place. The Republican leadership is discharging the bill from committee and bringing it straight to the floor. While the rule will allow for 7 hours of floor debate on the repeal, without allowing any amendment votes, it’s virtually guaranteed that those 7 hours will be used for C-Span friendly political speeches, not real debate.

The bill is also in direct violation of the Republicans’ new deficit-cutting rule that requires all legislation that would add to the deficit to be offset by spending cuts. The repeal has been estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to add $230 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years, but because the Republicans included an exemption for the costs of the health care repeal bill in their rules package, they won’t have to offset the $230 billion in deficit costs.

So, why are the Republicans bringing up their first substantial bill in a way that contradicts so many of their pledges and perpetuates the stus quo? Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier [R, CA-26] told The Hill that they’re using a closed rule because “elections have consequences” and they have promised an up-or-down vote on the repeal. The other consequence of the election, however, is that the Republicans are now the governing majority and they’re going to be held accountable for implementing their campaign-trail promises. So far they haven’t hit their stride on being more open and transparent in how they conduct business in the House.

Rep. Dreier is picture above.

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CANDY2011 02/18/2011 3:42pm

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beenblue 01/08/2011 2:02pm
in reply to milton6994 Jan 08, 2011 6:54am

What a shame that you believe in dogmatism, that`s all that truly is apparent here, (group think). I really don`t mean to offend, it`s just that your unbelief reveals a blind belief in something else, which is causing a systematic extreme polarization in this country, and a break down in logical dialog.

luminous 01/08/2011 10:50am
in reply to MRPockets Jan 08, 2011 9:37am

Obamacare allows states to form interstate compacts that allow the same policy to be sold in multiple states via the state exchanges. This is a good approach as it maintains state rights with regards to state level regulation while providing more “freemarket”.

Of course the reality is that most of the big insurance companies already sell across state lines so the whole argument on that point is just silly, the cost to follow slightly differing regulations from state to state is real simple. It just doesn’t cost that much to figure out the differing actuarial costs to different procedures and therefor the cost of covering said procedures.

Of course more “freemarket” via interstate policies still doesn’t account the fact that the way provider networks work would not provide any savings to out of state insurance companies even in a all the regulations are the same everywhere world.

MRPockets 01/08/2011 9:37am
in reply to MRPockets Jan 08, 2011 9:32am

Oops. Meant to reply to luminous.

MRPockets 01/08/2011 9:32am
in reply to HindiMovies Jan 08, 2011 1:50am

The easiest way to get “real” reform would be to allow insurance to be sold across state lines. If insurance companies are allowed to operate in the free market, prices will go down.

luminous 01/08/2011 9:09am

The CBO numbers are very believable, The republicans really created alot this opportunity for the democrats when they passed medicare advantage. Medicare advantage pays private plans between 115% to 150% the cost of a normal medicare enrollee, this is a bit expensive when added up among 40 million or so medicare qualifying people. This overpayment was actually by design as it was believed that private plans could not compete with medicare’s low administrative overhead. Obamacare removes this overpayment it will stop yearly payment increases to private medicare advantage plan providers until by means of inflation they are at the same level of cost as ordinary medicare. This accounts for a huge chunk of that $230 billion dollars of savings over a 10 year period, and could easily by itself account for close to a trillion dollars in the next 10 years.

milton6994 01/08/2011 6:54am

I can’t believe you are supporting the CBO numbers. Former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Eric Cantor, Speaker Boehner and many others have discredited those numbers and shown that they are based on assumptions that have have little basis in reality.

HindiMovies 01/08/2011 1:50am

Great Ideas.

luminous 01/07/2011 9:41pm

Obamacare includes reforms to Medicare and Medicaid that will save a considerable amount of money. Yes repealing the bill would have the effect of lowering lowering government spending, but it also repeals the savings measures and taxes that pay for that spending and the excess that would go towards paying down the deficit.

So the CBO is in fact very correct in its assessment. Worst case scenario would be for the savings to be off a bit and the deficit reduction from Obamacare to not be as big, but we have a $230 billion dollars of breathing room on that so its all good.

What they otta do is expand the bill, repeal the individual mandate and Cadillac tax, then end the individual/employer health tax write offs($450 billion per year) to expand the exchange subsidies 3-4 times(enough for good insurance), and add a public option to keep the private plans in check, roll medicaid into medicare to save the states.

That would be a good start to real reform, and a way to reduce the deficit.

conserve 01/07/2011 7:52pm

“The repeal has been estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to add $230 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years”

I finnd this to be a really sick joke seeing as how the only way they get this 230 billion is by taxing the americans 770 billion in the first place.

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