House Speaker John Boehner and Republican leaders today urged President Obama to support House Republicans' efforts to help Americans suffering from pre-existing conditions obtain affordable health care. On February 15, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it was suspending enrollment in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a $5 billion program created in the health care law to help sick and chronically ill Americans obtain coverage through January 2014.
In a letter to President Obama, Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts, and Health Subcommittee Vice Chair Michael C. Burgess, M.D., wrote, "Republicans have historically supported high-risk pools and reinsurance programs. In fact, the House Republican alternative to PPACA provided $25 billion to aid Americans suffering from pre-existing conditions through new universal access programs that reformed and expanded state based high-risk pools and reinsurance programs.
"We argued during the PPACA debate that PCIP was underfunded and was not sustainable as structured. We also said that health reform should tackle the biggest problems first -- lowering health care costs, increasing access to patient care, and prioritizing funding for chronically ill Americans. And while we still believe that our alternative would have provided better care and access for our most vulnerable Americans, it is time to temporarily set aside those differences and provide the resources necessary to assist those who need it most."
The members have recommended the president use funds from other programs in the health care law to allow PCIP to accept new enrollees and concluded, "Our goal has been and remains full repeal of the health care law, which is driving up health care costs and making it harder for small businesses to create jobs. You obviously oppose repeal. But our disagreement on the broader issue of the law should not preclude us from working together to take this specific action on behalf of Americans in need of help. Please let us know if you would support this idea. We stand ready and willing to work with you."
Full text of the letter is available in PDF form below: