House Democrats have accused their Republican colleagues of quietly passing a measure that would cut off the ability for the Congressional Budget Office to calculate how much any attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act would cost.
On Jan. 3, the House passed a rules package for the newly-minted 115th Congress along a largely party-line vote. The package included a rule that all bills be analyzed by the CBO to determine if they would cost taxpayers over $5 billion over the next 40 years, but explicitly exempted any legislation related to the repeal of the ACA, the Washington Examiner reports.
The rule drew condemnation from Democratic lawmakers, who took to the House floor to accuse Republicans of trying to hide away the costs of their plans to repeal and replace the ACA.
"The party that claims to be fiscally responsible is now looking to change the rules of the House so it can be fiscally reckless in its dangerous assault on the Affordable Care Act," said Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey.
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The Rules Committee Chairman, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, blasted his Democratic colleagues without directly addressing the provision.
"I'm still stunned that Republicans are blamed for the failures of Obamacare when in fact it's Obamacare that we're going to amend and we are going to change," Sessions said.
The House Minority Whip, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, asserted that the rule was evidence that his GOP colleagues know "that their proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act will be devastating to the federal deficit and the national debt."
The GOP strategy in the new 115th Congress is to pass a repeal of the ACA while also delaying its full withdrawal until 2019 or 2020, giving lawmakers time to decide on a replacement health care policy.
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On Jan. 4, Vice President-elect Mike Pence announced that Republicans in Congress would pass legislation to defund the ACA while President-elect Donald Trump would begin signing executive orders to chip away at the policy once he assumes office.
"The American people have spoken," Pence said, according to CBS News. "They want to see us repeal and replace Obamacare."
While GOP lawmakers are going full steam ahead on repealing the ACA, executives across the United States have started voicing concerns about how much it would cost to uproot the health care policy.
On Jan. 6, the Democratic mayor of Washington D.C., Muriel Bowser, penned a letter to House Republicans imploring them to reconsider the plan, stating that her office had estimated that repealing the ACA would cost her city over $500 million a year, with the federal government footing the bill.
"The repeal of all or part of the Affordable Care Act would disrupt our insurance market, impair insurers, and increase costs to the district and consumers," Bowser wrote, according to The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has also stated that his office estimates the repeal of the ACA could result in his state losing $595 million in 2017 alone.
The national cost of repealing Obamacare has yet to be calculated, but the new House rules means that American taxpayers may not know until the health care system has already been dismantled.