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This Week in Washington: Health Care Law Suffers Setback, Veterans Job Bill Passes House


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In another blow to the president's new health care reform program, the Obama administration recently admitted that a portion of its own law is unsustainable. This move has already rekindled debate over the controversial health care law's overall viability.

Back in January the newly sworn-in Republican House of Representatives voted to repeal the president's government-run health care plan and begin the process to replace it with market-based reforms built around the public's preferences for medical coverage. I also voted to repeal ObamaCare and I continue to support the House's more common sense approach of repeal and replace.

Unfortunately, the Democrat-led Senate has yet to follow the lead of the House to reset the health care debate and the overall fate of the president's health care law could ultimately rest in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

During the 2009 debate over the president's new health care program, the administration repeatedly argued that its passage would help to reduce the long-term federal budget deficit. Part of this calculus was the more than $70 billion in savings that ObamaCare supporters said could come from the long-term care program portion of the legislation. At the time, there were serious doubts raised about this claim and lawmakers added a provision in the president's health care law that the administration would have to certify to Congress that the long-term care program would be financially sound while remaining voluntary and self-financed.

On October 14, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius finally conceded that the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) long-term insurance program cannot be implemented and stay on budget. Secretary Sebelius wrote, "Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time."

The administration's stated decision not to implement the long-term care portion of the new health care law may not spell the end of the CLASS program, however. There is some question as to whether it can be halted given that it is part of current law. Furthermore, there is no guarantee the administration will not resurrect it at some later time. For this reason, I am joining other lawmakers in the House in supporting legislation to officially repeal the CLASS program.

Despite resistance from both the Senate and the president, the conservative House remains committed to pushing for the repeal of ObamaCare and replacing it with long-needed reforms including offering Americans the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, expanding access to health savings accounts, and offering the right to coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, we support measures to lower health care costs, including medical liability reform.

No doubt the administration's apparent retreat from a portion of its health care plan will add momentum to the ongoing effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare with true patient-centered care for all.

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