Overnight Health

Source: The Hill

Panel looks at new defunding approach: Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans, taking a new tack for defunding healthcare reform, on Wednesday will look at five provisions of the law they want to subject to annual appropriations. The GOP lawmakers are targeting: grants for state-based health insurance exchanges; the Prevention and Public Health Fund ($17.75 billion); construction and capital cost fund for school-based health centers ($200 million); state grants for sex ed and other "personal responsibility education" ($75 million); and grants to establish or expand primary care residency programs in teaching health centers ($230 million).

Former rep. says defunding not easy: Former Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) will tell the House panel on Wednesday that defunding healthcare reform is not as easy as blocking funds in the long-term continuing resolution. Istook, a fellow with the Heritage Foundation, wrote Tuesday that the law includes $105 billion "in direct implementation spending that bypasses Congress’s normal appropriations process."

"The challenge is not as simple as denying future funding for ObamaCare because you have all these postdated checks that have already been written by the previous Congress," Istook told The Hill. "The simplest analogy is you're promising not to write any more checks, but you haven't canceled the checks already written."

Witness cites flaws: John C. Goodman, who heads the libertarian National Center for Policy Analysis and testifies on Wednesday, told The Hill his testimony will focus on certain features of healthcare reform "so defective" that lawmakers, regardless of party affiliation, will have to deal with them. In his sights: the individual mandate and subsidies to purchase healthcare on new state-run insurance exchanges opening in 2014. 

"At a minimum, these subsidies will cause a huge, uneconomical restructuring of American industry," Goodman said in written testimony provided to The Hill.

View in PDF