Republican leaders of three House committees will collaborate to develop an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, as a vote on the party’s latest bill to repeal the law is anticipated next week.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.; and Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., will serve on a working group to replace the ACA with a “patient-centered” program, according to a joint statement.
“This law is fundamentally flawed: It takes power away from the patient and hands it to bureaucrats,” the lawmakers said in the statement. “Instead of making people’s health care decisions easier, in many cases it makes those decisions for them.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said that she reintroduced The Health Care Choice Act, which never made it out of the House last year, to do away with the government-funded health care marketplace in favor of allowing people to shop for insurance across state lines.
The move marked at least the third time in 2015 that Republican legislators have introduced in the House a bill that would fully repeal the ACA. The bill is expected to be voted on next week.
The new working group will also develop a contingency plan in case the U.S. Supreme Court decides to invalidate subsidies under the ACA in King v. Burwell, according to the lawmakers’ statement.
The high court is set to determine in the case whether the federal government is allowed to provide subsidies in the nearly two dozen states that have opted not to expand Medicare coverage. If the Supreme Court rules against the federal government and nixes that critical aspect of the law, it could call into question the individual mandate, which requires people to get covered or face a penalty, as well as see employers freed from paying a penalty in states currently receiving subsidies — calling the whole law into question.
While Republican lawmakers wait for a ruling in that case, which is set for oral arguments in March, they continue to introduce legislation to free employers from the supposed burden caused by the provision requiring those with more than 50 full-time workers to provide insurance or face a penalty.
The new working group’s contingency plan if the Supreme Court rules against the government in King v. Burwell would be consistent with its eventual complete plan to replace the ACA, the lawmakers said.
The health care expansion law has been under attack from Republican lawmakers since it first was signed into law in 2010, but attempts at a full repeal have thus far failed to garner any real support.