Idaho Congressmen Mike Simpson and Raúl R. Labrador supported H.R. 1213 and H.R. 1214, which both repeal large mandatory spending funds in President Obama's health care bill that was signed into law last year.
H.R. 1213 would repeal the portion of the health care bill that gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services access to the "amount necessary" to implement health insurance exchanges. This "amount necessary" is not specified in the bill, essentially granting an unlimited tap on the U.S. Treasury to implement the health care bill.
H.R. 1214 repeals a large mandatory construction fund for School-Based Health Centers. However, these newly constructed facilities may never provide care because no mandatory fund exists in the health care bill to actually pay for care. Additionally, between the stimulus bill and the health care bill, $3 billion is available for construction at Community Health Centers, making this mandatory fund duplicative and unnecessary. The bill saves $100 million according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Both bills passed in the House of Representatives and now move to the Senate for consideration.
"There is absolutely no reason that the funds used to set up the health insurance exchanges and construction funds in the bill should not be justified every year in Congress just like many other programs," said Simpson. "Essentially, the Health Care bill requires that large sums of money be spent, and then provides that money within the law and takes away the Appropriations Committee's ability to reduce or eliminate these funds."
"H.R. 1213 was both unacceptable to me from a philosophical standpoint as well as a practical one. Exchanges theoretically show promise as a means to bring free market competition to health care, which should bring down costs, but this Health and Human Services "slush fund" did nothing more than allow the Secretary to pick winners and losers among the states," said Labrador. "Worse, the funding pool was basically uncapped and it was not tied to any mechanism that would encourage innovation, efficiency and most importantly accountability. We need real healthcare reform in this country and not new systems that will increase rather than decrease costs and spending, as these health exchanges would have done."