LANCASTER, Pa. — A House vote for wholesale repeal of “Obamacare” early next year likely will meet a Senate roadblock. So the incoming House chairman of a key health subcommittee plans what he calls a “piecemeal” effort to repeal the controversial health care plan enacted by the outgoing Congress and signed by the president earlier this year.
That’s what Rep. Joe Pitts (R.-Ohio) told HUMAN EVENTS during a luncheon of the Lancaster County (Pa.) Lincoln Club here on Friday. In his first interview since becoming chairman of the health subcommittee of the House Energy Committee earlier this week, stalwart conservative, seven-term Rep. Pitts admitted that a wholesale repeal passed by the Republican-run House would likely be stopped in the Senate, which Democrats still control by a margin of 53-to-47 seats.
“We’re taking a two path approach to repeal-we assume wholesale repeal will pass the House but not the Senate, so we will then move on repealing select portions of [Obamacare],” explained Pitts. He said he soon will meet in a “strategy session” on repeal with Speaker-designate John Boehner (R.-Ohio) and Rep. Fred Upton (R.-Mich), who will be chairman of the House Energy Committee (under which is the health subcommittee Pitts will chair).
Pitts told HUMAN EVENTS that the “first strike” of the repeal forces in the House will be to pass the Stupak-Pitts measure, which he co-sponsored and which bans any tax dollars for abortion in health care legislation. (When the Democratic-crafted health care legislation was enacted in the fall of 2009, the Stupak-Pitts amendment was passed with the votes of every House Republican as well as 64 House Democrats; when passage of the Senate version of the health care bill was voted on by the House this year, the Stupak-Pitts language was eliminated).
“You’ll recall that the president insisted that he was against tax dollars for abortion in the health care bill and this would be achieved through the executive order he signed,” said Pitts, “Now, by passing Stupak-Pitts separately, we’ll give him the opportunity to demonstrate this further.”
Upton, soon to be chairman of the full Energy Committee, has promised Pitts that the panel “will move on [Stupak-Pitts] quickly,” Pitts added.
But Stupak-Pitts is only the tip of the iceberg. Pitts told us he intends to work for “codifying the Hyde Amendment [which bars tax dollars for abortion in S-CHIP, the federal employees’ health plan, and other government programs that existed before “Obamacare” was passed].”
“Our goal is to make Hyde statutory so we don’t have to reauthorize it every year,” explained Pitts.
High on the list for assault in the “piecemeal” repeal, he added, is the so-called “1099 regulation,” which requires more paperwork and documentation of expenses by health providers. Pitts called the regulation “onerous” and said the move to repeal it directly “is sure to have widespread support nationwide — people in the health-care area are wondering why government needs all that information.”
Pitts also told us how he met with Republican Govs. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and with Pennsylvania’s GOP Gov-elect Tom Corbett to discuss possible state waivers from certain health-related programs in order to devise more efficient and less expensive means of dealing with health-related problems.
“Whatever the federal government can do, the governors can almost surely do it cheaper,” he said, citing the example of “tough-love” welfare reform that came out of several states in the 1990s after they were granted waivers from Washington, “The Medicaid funding is their biggest problem, of course. But there are other things and I hope we can turn out over as much as possible to governors. The governors can provide lots of innovation, so I want to bring them in a big way.”
As to expected opposition from the White House and the Senate to all his plans, Pitts said he would remain resolute and “we’ll just take our time.”
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