Conservatives Force GOP Leaders to Pull Obamacare Funding Measure

Thursday, 25 Apr 2013 08:54 AM

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent

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House Republican leaders abruptly pulled a bill that diverts money from an Obamacare promotion program to help Americans with pre-existing conditions after a large faction of conservative GOP members, backed by powerful outside interests, raised opposition to the measure.

The conservatives argued the bill would simply shuffle money around between Obamacare programs and would do nothing to actually start to defund the government healthcare program passed in 2010.

The limited-government, free-market organizations Club for Growth and Heritage Action this week announced their opposition to the bill and lobbied heavily against it.

“We intend to continue to push Congress to pass market-based healthcare reform,” Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told Newsmax.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor indicated earlier in the day that the House would press forward with the bill, saying it was “the right thing to do.”

But a Cantor spokesman told Newsmax that the leaders needed more time to address concerns with lawmakers because many members were headed to Texas for the dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library on Thursday. He said they would bring the bill back to the floor when Congress returns after a weeklong recess in May.

“We’re going to continue to work the bill,” Doug Heye, Cantor’s deputy chief of staff, told Newsmax. “We had positive conversations today and made good progress. We remain focused on stopping the biggest entitlement expansion in a generation.”

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the bill last week on a party-line vote, and the influential Wall Street Journal editorialized that it stood a real chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled Senate, despite the threat of a White House veto.

The bill was drafted after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced earlier this year that it would phase out a temporary program for enrolling people with pre-existing conditions in stop-gap insurance plans. The program was designed to insure them until state-based health insurance exchanges go online in 2014.

The bill, scheduled for Wednesday, would have reinstated the program using money from Obamacare’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, which critics say is riddled with waste and abuse.

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