WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives are trying to find a way to force the U.S. Senate to vote on defunding the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, before the new enrollment period opens in two weeks.
A possible method that could come up for a vote in the U.S. House this week involves tying votes on the debt ceiling and continued government funding to the 2010 health care reform law even as the law’s major provisions are in the process of being implemented.
“If it had any popularity at all, it’s rapidly falling as people are getting their new estimates on their premiums for next year,” said Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito of Obamacare.
“They haven’t hired the navigators to help people and they’re supposed to begin signing up Oct. 1. There’s not training for them. To me, it’s just going to rife with confusion.”
With more than 40 past votes, the U.S. House, which is lead by Republicans, has signed off on the defunding of the Affordable Care Act. Capito has been among the supports of those efforts. The proposals, though, have picked up no traction in the U.S. Senate where the Democrats are in charge.
A House legislative tool, called a continuing resolution, could be used to attach the proposed defunding of Obamacare to the spending bills that are needed to keep the government operating through the middle of December, at least. Thus, members of the Senate would have to go on record on the health care reform law to keep the government running.
Without action from Congress, government funding will expire on Sept. 30.
Some of the most conservative House Republicans, though, have argued against such a step and called it a “gimmick.” There is an alternative proposal being floated that would fund the government from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2014 and raise the debt ceiling by giving the U.S. Treasury Department enough borrowing authority for a year while imposing a one year delay for Obamacare.
Whatever happens will have to happen soon.
Open enrollment for both the Medicaid expansion and the new health insurance exchanges is scheduled to begin on Oct. 1 for coverage starting as early as Jan. 1.
“There’s just so much mass confusion on this that, I hope, more common sense prevails with at the (Obama) Administration’s level and they push back this individual mandate,” said Capito. “It’s not ready for prime time.”
President Barack Obama has said he will reject any legislation that would delay or defund the health care reform law.