GOP plan seeks to block health reform funding

Proposal would delay overhaul spending until legal challenges are resolved

Topics: Health Policy, Market Trends, Strategy

September 30, 2011

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies on Thursday released a $153.4 billion draft budget for fiscal year 2012 that prohibits funding for the federal health reform law until all legal challenges are settled.

The budget would prohibit HHS from continuing implementation of the law until 90 days after the date when all legal challenges have concluded. The draft bill would make various cuts to health care spending, including:

  • Blocking funding from reaching the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, an HHS division that oversees much of the overhaul's implementation;
  • Rescinding $15 million for the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is charged with reducing Medicare spending;
  • Reducing CDC spending by $52 million;
  • Cutting $1 billion from the reform law's Prevention and Public Health Fund;
  • Preventing funding from going to Planned Parenthood unless the organization attests that it will not perform abortions or provide funding to other abortion providers;
  • Cutting all funding for Title X, which pays for medical services such as contraception and cancer screenings for low-income women;
  • Barring the use of any funding available through the reform law or the spending bill for health plans that cover abortions; and
  • Banning funding for needle-exchange programs.

The draft bill ultimately would rescind $8.6 billion in appropriations authorized under the reform law.

Reaction to draft bill

Republicans on the subcommittee said they are attempting to rein in some of the "regulatory overreach" by the Obama administration, including the health reform law. House Appropriations Committee Chair Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said, "Excessive and wasteful spending over the years has put many of the programs and agencies funded in this bill on an irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal path."

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, criticized the measure, saying its "main effect would probably be to prohibit Medicaid patients from choosing to receive services such as contraception and cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood clinics."

She noted that the draft bill "contains at least 40 brand new legislative provisions and riders, many of them highly controversial and most dealing with complicated subjects well outside the expertise of the Appropriations Committees."

Markup unlikely

According to The Hill's "Healthwatch," the bill likely will not go markup in its current form because its spending levels are higher than those endorsed by two Republicans on the committee. Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) have opposed appropriations bills higher than $139 billion, the amount of the House-approved GOP fiscal year 2012 budget resolution (H Con Res 34) (Wolfgang, Washington Times, 9/29; Ethridge, CQ Today, 9/29 [subscription required]; Rogers, Politico, 9/29; Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/29).

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