Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 30, 2013

Local Reps. vote to delay health law

Government shutdown looms as parties face off over law.

By Scott Smith Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski, Todd Rokita and Susan Brooks joined the House Republican majority late Sunday in opposing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, voting in favor of amendments to delay the law for one year and repeal a tax on medical devices.

All three framed their votes as an attempt to avoid a government shutdown, despite a prior warning from Senate Democrats that any attempt to delay the law would be rejected.

“The Senate can easily ensure government keeps running, its members just need to listen to the American people and then they need to act,” Brooks, R-5th District, said in a statement sent prior to the vote.

At stake is a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. The Republican-led House passed the proposal to delay the law 231-192, in one of two amendments attached to a Senate spending bill passed Friday night. The Senate is expected to take up the House amendments when it reconvenes today.

The House vote wasn’t a surprise. Each of the three representatives, who together represent north central Indiana, sent out statements prior to the final vote indicating their positions.

“Please know that the House will continue our efforts to chip away at this health care law,” Walorski, R-2nd District, said. “With Senate support, we have a chance to prove Congress can put partisan politics aside.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and the White House also made it clear, hours before the final House votes, that they would not accept the plan.

“To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one.”

Within minutes, the White House vowed President Obama would veto the plan, resulting in the federal government technically running out of money Monday night and forcing a partial shutdown.

Failure to pass a short-term funding bill — also known as a continuing resolution — would mean the first partial government shutdown in almost 20 years.

In an interview with MSNBC Saturday, Rokita, R-4th District, called the ACA “one of the most insidious laws ever devised by man.”

“It puts a bureaucrat between the patient and the doctor and it drives up health care costs,” Rokita said.

Government-run health care exchanges, where the uninsured can purchase health insurance, are set to open for enrollment Tuesday.

Coverage would begin Jan. 1, the date Americans must have health insurance or pay a penalty.

There have been vastly differing claims on what the new law will do to health insurance premiums. In July, the Indiana Department of Insurance and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said the law would result in a 72 percent hike in premiums.

This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the new law is expected to create a slight decrease in premiums. The HHS study was backed up by Indianapolis-based insurer Anthem Inc., which predicted a slight decrease for Anthem customers.

The medical device tax has been the subject of $150 million in congressional lobbying since 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. If left in place, the 2.3 percent tax is expected to raise $29 billion over the next 10 years, money slated to expand coverage for the uninsured.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.