After weeks of little action by Republicans who want to repeal parts or all of President Obama’s health care overhaul, lawmakers ramped up efforts this week that are unlikely to get very far but draw attention back to their complaints about the law.
Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana Republican, used the deficit-cutting supercommittee as an opportunity to suggest repealing the two most expensive parts of the Affordable Care Act — an expansion of Medicaid coverage to Americans earning 130 percent of the federal poverty level and partial subsidies that will be available through the new insurance exchanges.
Mr. Rehberg estimated that cutting the programs would raise $1.4 trillion through 2021, topping the $1.2 trillion in savings the supercommittee must find before Thanksgiving or face automatic, across-the-board cuts to defense and entitlement programs.
“Eliminating these new programs is the quickest, clearest and most common sense path to meeting the committee’s goal,” Mr. Rehberg said in a letter to the supercommittee, adding that because that part of the law doesn’t go into effect until 2014, no benefits will be taken away.
Because half of the committee is composed of Democrats who are committed to protecting benefits for low-income Americans and upholding the health care law, the proposal is likely to end in a stalemate.
Mr. Rehberg’s letter came the same day about a dozen congressional Republicans gathered outside the Capitol to announce 1.6 million signatures asking for the entire law to be overturned. “We need to find a way to get it done, get it on the president’s desk,” said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican. “And some would say that the president wouldn’t sign that if it’s on his desk … Let’s just get it there and see.”