- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2015

House Republicans announced Friday they will forge ahead next week with efforts to dismantle Obamacare through a fast-track budget process, wasting little time after three panels recommended ways to repeal the 2010 law’s most unpopular mandates, taxes and regulations.

Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, Georgia Republican, said his panel would take up the committees’ recommendations Oct. 9, combining them into a single bill for consideration on the House floor.

The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would allow GOP leaders in both chambers to devise new legislation that can pass on a majority vote in the Senate.

Democrats used reconciliation to help pass Obamacare in 2010, although Mr. Obama would still maintain a veto over whatever repeal bill Congress passes this time around. Still, the GOP wants to prove it can repeal Obamacare with a Republican president in 2017 even if they cannot win a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes in the Senate.

“While reconciliation is not a silver bullet, it is a powerful tool, and one we remain committed to using in order to help protect Americans from President Obama’s disastrous health care law,” said Mr. Price, a candidate to replace Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is poised for a promotion to House speaker when the GOP elects its leaders Thursday.

Instructions in the GOP-authored, fiscal 2016 budget instructed the Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Education and the Workforce committees each to draft recommendation for reducing the deficit by at least $1 billion.

Last week, Ways and Means voted along party lines, 23-14, to repeal insurance mandates on individuals and large employers and levies on medical devices and generous health care plans. It also voted by voice to scrap a panel set up under the health law to rein in Medicare costs.

The Congressional Budget Office said Friday those plans, if implemented, would save taxpayers about $37.1 billion from 2016 to 2025, as a $268 billion reduction in spending would more than offset the loss of $230.9 billion in revenue from scrapping the tax provisions.

The committee’s plans are based on the idea that by repealing the individual mandate requiring Americans to hold insurance, fewer Americans would take up taxpayer-funded subsidies on Obamacare’s exchanges.

While paying for its recommendations, Democrats are sure to cry foul over the goal of the Republican-led panel’s moves — to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

The CBO has estimated that the health law overall will reduce deficits in the long term.

Elsewhere in Congress, the House Energy and Commerce panel has asked Congress to defund Planned Parenthood as punishment for its controversial abortion practice, and to repeal Obamacare’s Public Health and Prevention Fund, a pool of money that Republicans have labeled a “slush fund” with little oversight.

The Education and Workforce Committee said Congress should Obamacare’s “auto-enrollment mandate” on companies with 200 or more full-time workers. The rule automatically enrolls new employees — and re-enrolls existing ones — into a company health plan if the worker fails to affirmatively select a plan or opt out of coverage.

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