GOP Anti-Obamacare Strategy Is Fixed After Florida
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The Fiscal Times
March 14, 2014

Congressional Republicans plan to capitalize on their victory in the Florida special election this week by reinforcing their war on Obamacare. Many in the GOP, including House Speaker John Boehner, say the president’s signature health care plan helped Republican David Jolly defeat Democrat Alex Sink.

"We're reminded this week that the American people are still concerned about the president's health care law," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. “More people are going to lose their policies over the next couple years, people are going to pay a lot more for the policies they’re going to have to buy at the exchanges, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”

Related: GOP Strategy on Obamacare: Repeal or Replace

The GOP seems to view the election results as a green light to forge ahead with their attack strategy including another vote to dismantle the president’s health care law ahead of the midterm elections.

Jolly's victory "shows that voters are looking for representatives who will fight to end the disaster of Obamacare," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

House leadership scheduled a vote today on a Republican bill to delay for five years Obamacare’s individual mandate—a provision of the law Republicans have had in their crosshairs since it passed in 2010.

Unlike previous GOP attempts to rollback the individual mandate, this bill comes attached to a permanent “doc fix” that has bipartisan support and would finally end the expensive and flawed way Congress pays Medicare doctors. It would repeal the outdated formula used to determine how much to pay Medicare doctors. Since Medicare spending has exceeded the formula’s target every year since 2003, doctors have been left vulnerable to major pay cuts.

Related: Congress Plans to Dump Medicare’s “Doc Fix”

During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Thursday, Republicans downplayed the portion of the bill that delays the individual mandate—and instead focused on the doc fix.

"This bill repeals the sustainable growth rate formula, avoiding potentially devastating across-the-board cuts slated for 2014, and does so at a cost far lower than what Congress has already spent," said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX).

Indeed, it would be paid for by repealing the provision central to Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office scored the bill and found that getting rid of the individual mandate would save about $170 billion over ten years. The doc fix would cost about $138 billion. The CBO also said the bill would leave about 13 million new people without health coverage by 2018 and cause premiums to increase by 10 to 20 percent.

This move puts House Democrats in an extremely uncomfortable position, since they will be forced to either vote against a permanent solution to the expensive flawed and unpopular physician payment system or vote against a crucial provision of the president’s health care law.

Similar to the majority of the GOP’s anti-Obamacare bills, the measure is largely symbolic and is highly unlikely to survive the Democrat-controlled Senate.

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Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.