Things Are About to Get Ugly. Republicans Plan to Defund the Health Bill Next Week


First published 2/9/11 on Health Policy and Marketplace Review

Word is that House Republicans will attach an amendment to the latest federal spending bill that will cut-off funding for the health care bill.

The last Congress never finalized a budget for the current fiscal year—the feds have been operating under a series of continuing resolutions. The most recent one will expire on March 4th. If another resolution is not agreed to, much of the government has to shutdown.

House Republicans, under heavy pressure from their base, have decided to take the Democrats on over the new health care law by cutting all remaining funding for implementation of the law in the current 2010 fiscal year (October to October).

Democrats, under the same heavy pressure from their base to protect the bill, aren’t about to let them do that. While the Republicans can accomplish this in the House—and will next week—they don’t have the votes in the Senate and they don’t have the President’s pen.

Now, I know the Republicans won the last election and they control the House. But what is their end game here?

Shut the government down until the Democrats agree to suspend the health care law? With Democrats under the same intense pressure from their base to protect the new law at all costs, they aren’t going to agree to do that.

With the polls showing the country evenly split on this law, about the only political outcome either side will accomplish is to show their base just how macho they are.

Just where might a compromise occur? HHS can have half the money it needs? That won’t make the Republican base happy.

Where will this end?

As George W Bush used to say, don’t get into a war unless you have an exit strategy.

Robert Laszewski is a DC-based health policy analyst who writes at Health Policy and Marketplace Review.

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