OPINION: Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) in The Hill "Help sick Americans by cutting funding for healthcare law implementation"
On Wednesday, members of the House will have a clear choice. Vote for H.R. 1549, the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, to defund a key ObamaCare slush fund and cripple the administration’s implementation efforts. Or, vote against the bill, which would allow for the continued implementation of the guts of ObamaCare through an unaccountable slush fund wielded by the administration.
This fund, otherwise known as the “Prevention and Public Health Fund,” is a program whose name bears no relation to what it actually does. The administration is using the “Prevention” fund as a mass marketing and financing machine for Obamacare. The level of spending has been outrageous with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on some very questionable programs, and the rampant spending continues.
Recently, the Obama administration announced that it would tap $54 million from the “Prevention” fund to pay “navigators” – individuals and community groups – to sign individuals up for $1 trillion in subsidies through Obamacare’s exchanges.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced a slick new media, outreach and enrollment campaign for Obamacare’s exchanges. The cost? $304 million. The source of funding? You guessed it: the “Prevention” fund. As long as the “Prevention” fund remains law, ObamaCare implementers have one last trough of money to raid to prop up their failing law that is destroying jobs, increasing insurance premiums, gutting Medicare, and empowering Washington bureaucrats at the expense of patients.
We could not sit back and watch the Obama administration continue to use taxpayer dollars to fund ObamaCare implementation, which even one of the law’s main architects admits is a “train wreck.” That is why we introduced H.R. 1549 – a bill to turn off the spigot immediately.
The money would be redirected toward deficit reduction and helping sick Americans with pre-existing conditions left out in the cold by Obamacare’s con job. While the law’s proponents tried to sell their law on the issue of pre-existing conditions, the administration has left sick Americans with nowhere to go.
On February 15, 2013, HHS announced that it was shutting down a program to help provide affordable health care coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. A combination of structural flaws, financial mismanagement, lack of oversight, and failure to prioritize resources led the program to shut its doors to new applicants, leaving sick Americans with health insurance applications denied by the Obama administration. One of these Americans is Susan Zurface. Susan is a mother of two recently diagnosed with leukemia who is about to lose insurance coverage. During a hearing a few weeks ago, Susan told us that upon completing an application for the pre-existing conditions program, she was informed that the plan had been shut down by the Obama administration. Despite the administration’s promises, she was out of luck.
That is why we will vote on Wednesday and force members of Congress to take a stand. Vote to defund ObamaCare and help sick patients like Susan, or vote for the continued implementation of the ObamaCare train wreck. The choice should be easy.
Pitts and Burgess are respectively the chairman and vice chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.
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