The passage of Health Care Reform last year hardly ended the debate about health care reform. Since the Republican takeover of the House in November, symbolic efforts have been made to repeal the law. Though repeal will go nowhere unless or until President Obama leaves the White House, hearings and committees have sprung up to find ways to de-fund or curtail the original statute. Indeed, Democrats seemed capable of explaining and defending the bill only after they gave the opposition a three-month head start on attacking it.
Today, two sets of hearings will focus on funding the, in particular its provisions concerning assisted-living services for older Americans.
The US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions will hold a committee hearing titled “Health Insurance Exchanges and Ongoing State Implementation of the Affordable Care Act.” It starts today at 10 A.M. The hearing will include testimony from Steve Larsen, Deputy Administrator and Director of the , and Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle.
Across the rotunda, thewill be holding a hearing entitled “The Implementation and Sustainability of the New, Government-Administered Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program,” (NB: The Republican-controlled House’s use of ‘Government Administered’) today beginning at 9:30 A.M. The hearing was called to outline the proposed structure of the CLASS program; and summarize recent observations and concerns with the program’s long-term sustainability and potential financial risks for the Federal government, consumers, and employers.
True, today’s hearings are not as shockingly newsworthy as Congressman Peter King’s (R)(Meant to build on the fine work of the hearings on the radicalization of American Christians after the Oklahoma City bombings. No, wait…) But the repercussions from these hearings could have much greater impact on the subject at hand than Congressman King’s stunt.
The most likely scenario is that Republicans in both houses will call for deep cuts to the ACT – even to those provisions helping older white Americans who are the bulk of the electorate for the Republicans – while the parties continue to wrangle over the appropriations for the government through April 15th (Oh, the irony…). Though provisions in the ACT will not get much more than symbolic trimmings this go-round, Republicans will smell blood that will inspire them to make drastic cuts to the landmark health reforms once the real budget for 2011-12 is debated at the end of the summer.
The demands that government should let the free market regulate health care will likely grow louder after Labor-Day Weekend and be a major bone of contention for the 2012 presidential election – whatever the terms worked out in today’s hearings. Why have we not yet realized that we have been trying a free-market system of health care for the last 60-odd years, and it has proven expensive for all, inefficient for most, and?
After contacting your Congresspersons about this issue, enjoy a green beer to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!