GOP delays its healthcare bill

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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WASHINGTON -- An effort by House Republicans to highlight problems with President Barack Obama's healthcare law by bailing out a program for people with pre-existing conditions appeared to backfire Wednesday.

GOP leaders postponed a scheduled vote after the measure met strong opposition from two directions: from conservative groups resistant to any federal role in healthcare and from Democrats who objected that the Republicans planned to pay for the high-risk patient program by raiding a disease prevention provision the administration says is essential to the overhaul.

The legislation, a departure from the usual GOP efforts to kill the Affordable Health Care Act outright, also faced a White House veto threat.

Erica Elliott, spokeswoman for GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, said in a statement, "We had good conversations with our members and made a lot of solid progress" on the bill. But she said there was "still work to do," and with members leaving for the Bush center dedication, "we'll continue the conversations" when the House returns in May after a recess next week.

The GOP bill would provide up to $3.6 billion to shore up the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, or PCIP, which is intended to be a stopgap measure for uninsured high-risk patients until the end of this year, when full consumer protections under the healthcare act go into effect.

Under the plan, those who have been uninsured for six months would be subsidized so they could buy insurance at average rates. The original goal was for the plan to reach more than 300,000 before it disappeared at year's end, but the costs were higher than anticipated and it enrolled slightly more than 100,000 before the administration said in it would stop taking new applications.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, called the bill a "needed piece of relief for" hundreds of thousands."

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