Tags: Healthcare Reform | boehner | obamacare | alternative | gop

Boehner: GOP Working on Alternative to Obamacare

By    |   Thursday, 16 January 2014 06:20 PM

House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday that Republicans will introduce a plan this year to replace the beleaguered Obamacare law that has caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage or see premiums and deductibles skyrocket.

"You'll see Republicans come forward with a plan to replace Obamacare, a plan that will actually reduce costs for the American people and make health insurance more accessible," the Ohio Republican said in response to a question at his weekly press briefing at the Capitol.

Editor's Note: Should ObamaCare Be Defunded? Vote in Urgent National Poll

Boehner said GOP lawmakers would discuss the issue at their annual planning retreat later this month. "It's one of the big issues for our conversation in terms of our agenda for this year," he said.

Any plan they agree upon and would mark the GOP's first attempt to rally around a single effort to replace President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The Republican-controlled House has voted more than 40 times to replace, repeal, or undo parts of the law after campaigning last year on a promise to repeal the healthcare act.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas railed against Obamacare for 21 hours and 19 minutes during a Senate floor debate in September on a continuing resolution to finance the government.

The stalemate over the law and the skirmish over extending the nation's debt ceiling led to a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government in October that cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion.

Republicans bore the brunt of the ire from Americans regarding the shutdown in subsequent surveys.

Considered Obama's signature domestic legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act has been plagued with problems since it was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2010.

Initial legal challenges ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the law in a 5-4 decision, ruling that the penalties levied by Obamacare on Americans who don't have health insurance amounted to a tax.

Various requirements have since been challenged — primarily its contraception mandate by Catholic-affiliated groups — and the high court is scheduled to hear a challenge this spring by Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma City-based and crafts chain which contends the law violates religious liberties.

After delaying the mandate for large companies, Obama decided to proceed with the mandate for individuals on Oct. 1. The rollout was plagued by a dysfunctional website, HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states that lack their own exchanges.

The site has experienced a plethora of technological glitches and was shut down its first weekend to address those issues, and again last November.

Americans continue to have problems accessing the site and concerns about whether applications have been processed sufficiently, even whether Americans' personal information is safeguarded, continue to dog the website.

President Obama promised the site would be improved by Nov. 30, and even that deadline was extended by a day. In one embarrassing episode in November, HealthCare.gov crashed when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited a Miami hospital.

Editor’s Note: New 'Obamacare Survival Guide' Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

The glitches led the White House to twice postpone deadlines for Americans to apply for insurance that would start on Jan. 1.

Just this week, the administration said that people with pre-existing conditions will have until March 15 to sign up for coverage, the second extension for those enrolling in the $5 billion Pre-Existing Conditions Plan.

And cybersecurity professionals warned on Thursday that the White House has not implemented fixes to protect HealthCare.gov from hackers, three months after experts first pointed out the problem.

Perhaps, however, the strongest attacks levied by Republicans on Obamacare resulted from the broken promise made by the president himself: "If you like your healthcare plan, you'll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period."

Obama also said, "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period."

Millions of Americans, though, have lost their healthcare coverage because the policies did not meet the Obamacare requirements, and the Heritage Foundation reported last month that 4.7 million insurance policies have been canceled or changed in 32 states.

In fact, Obama apologized in November to Americans who lost their coverage because of the healthcare law and later urged Americans to not be discouraged in using HealthCare.gov.

But Americans have seen both their premiums and deductibles skyrocket.

Republicans continue to charge that Obamacare cannot be fixed and should be repealed.

The efforts to hold the White House accountable for Obamacare carried into 2014, with the House on Thursday approving legislation that would require the administration to report every week how many Americans have signed up for healthcare coverage.

The vote was 259-154, with 33 Democrats breaking ranks and joining the GOP majority in supporting the legislation. It marked the second time in a week that the House has targeted Obamacare.

"We know the president's healthcare law is driving up costs for middle-class families, making it harder for small businesses to hire, and hurting the economy, but there's still a lot we don't know," Boehner said after the legislation was passed.

The White House "hasn't provided a clear picture of where enrollment stands," he said.

Editor's Note: Should ObamaCare Be Defunded? Vote in Urgent National Poll

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House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that Republicans will introduce a plan this year to replace the beleaguered Obamacare law that has caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage or see premiums and deductibles skyrocket.
Thursday, 16 January 2014 06:20 PM
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