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Jan. 20, 2011
LANSING U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas is joining fellow Republicans in urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote on the health reform repeal bill passed by the U.S. House on Wednesday.
Moran said a vote on the bill would test the conventional wisdom that opponents of the law in the Senate lack the votes to get it off the books.
“I think we ought to do everything we can to make sure there is a vote in the Senate and then we’ll see where the votes are,” Moran said in an interview after a recent meeting here with constituents.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, continued to say this week that he would not schedule the repeal bill for a vote.
Moran, who was elected to the Senate in November after representing Kansas’ 1st Congressional District for seven terms, acknowledged that the reform law won’t be repealed while President Obama is in the White House.
Given that, he said Republicans should closely monitor the law’s implementation and attempt to “improve” it.
KHI file photo
“I think what we need to do is have greater oversight, get the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) administrators, get the secretary (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius) in front of the House and Senate,” he said. “We need to start figuring out what we can do to improve or fix this bill.”
House Republicans have started work on a proposal they say would reduce defensive medicine by limiting the ability of patients to sue doctors. Another GOP proposal would give consumers more low-cost coverage options by allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines.
Democrats are likely to continue to oppose both, arguing that defensive medicine is not a major cause of soaring health care costs and that allowing companies headquartered in states with weak consumer laws to sell inadequate policies across the country would leave millions of Americans underinsured.
Moran said he was troubled by the overall cost of the reform law and the “terrible burden” it places on businesses.
He said the first bill he sponsored as a member of the Senate seeks to repeal an IRS reporting requirement designed to help pay for the bill. Starting in 2014, it would require businesses to file a “1099” form for any purchase of goods or services worth more than $600.
“We’re trying to grow and economy. That means putting people to work,” Moran said. “And this bill is a burden on small business, farmers and ranchers in paying the bill, plus it just lacks common sense.”
Democrats in Congress also have signaled they want to revise the so-called 1099 provision.
The reform law requires individuals to purchase health insurance but not employers. However, businesses with more than 50 employees may face tax penalties if they don’t. Small employers – those with fewer than 25 workers – are eligible for up to a 35 percent tax credit if they offer coverage.
Keep some popular parts
Moran said some of the reforms already in place should be included in whatever alternative legislation Republicans develop. Those include allowing adult children to remain longer on their parents’ insurance policy and federal subsidies that help make coverage available and more affordable to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
“In my own life, we’ve experienced the circumstance of college-age students in our family in regard to their insurance,” he said. “There are issues to be addressed. But I think generally, this bill has dealt with them in ways that (are) unacceptable.”
Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger told state legislators this week that she expected changes to be made in the reform law. But she said the state should continue to move forward with implementation so that it doesn’t fall behind and risk ceding important decisions to the federal government.
"If we fail to comply with the federal law, the fall-back position is that activity would be taken over" by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Praeger said.
The Kansas delegation in the U.S. House is all Republican and each of them voted in favor of repealing the reform law. Kansans in the U.S. House are Reps. Tim Huelskamp of the 1st District, Lynn Jenkins of the 2nd District, Kevin Yoder of the 3rd District and Mike Pompeo of the 4th District.