As the House of Representatives nears a vote Thursday on a massive fiscal 2011 spending bill, House Speaker John Boehner's office outlined more ways the legislation would weaken the healthcare reform law.
Boehner: Spending bill cuts ACA programs; requires GAO audits
The Ohio Republican highlighted six areas of the bill that undercut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including an agreement that requires the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on repealing the law. Another element of the bill instructs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a series of audits examining the law's effects on the economy.
The first—due within 60 days from the time the spending agreement becomes law—would review the waivers that the administration has provided to unions and businesses. According to the summary from Boehner, the other GAO audits would inspect the premium effects on individuals and families as a result of the law's mandates, the status of comparative effectiveness research funding in both the Affordable Care Act and the stimulus bill, and the contractors who have been hired to implement the law—as well as the cost to taxpayers from those contracts.
Meanwhile, the spending bill agreement would freeze the Internal Revenue Service's budget, hindering the agency's ability to enforce the law. The continuing resolution would also restrict the use of the Affordable Care Act's prevention and public health fund. Late last month, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee passed a bill to repeal the section of the Affordable Care Act that created that fund, which grants the HHS secretary full authority to administer $17.75 billion in funding from fiscal year 2012 to 2021.
And the continuing resolution also eliminates funding for the healthcare reform law's free choice vouchers program and the start-up funding for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan, or CO-OP.
In a statement Tuesday, the White House said it supports the continuing resolution that will fund government department and agencies for the remainder of this fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The administration said it “would not have agreed to many of these cuts under better fiscal circumstances,” but that the legislation is a compromise that helps the federal government live within its means while it protects investments to help America compete for jobs.
“These include investments in education, clean energy, and life-saving medical research,” said the state of administration policy. “However, the administration strongly opposes any attempts to include language in the underlying bill that would deny funding for critical women's health services or prohibit funding to implement the Affordable Care Act that is making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.”
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