This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) that would have required the Health and Human Services Department to submit to Congress a report on the extent to which states were expected to have difficulties establishing health care “exchanges” (regulated marketplaces in which the uninsured could purchase subsidized health insurance) without federal funding. This amendment was offered to legislation repealing a provision of a major health care reform law that provided federal funds to states for health care exchanges.
Under a major health care reform law signed into law by President Obama in 2010, the federal government was set to provide federal funding to states to establish health insurance exchanges in 2014. The underlying bill rescinded federal funding for those state-based exchanges.
Waters urged support for her amendment: “The Affordable Care Act [the 2010 health care reform bill] places an emphasis on state-based health reform. The Affordable Care Act allows States to set up their own health benefit exchanges and offers grants to States to assist them in doing so. A total of 49 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories have already applied for these exchange grants. These states and territories are working hard to determine what type of health insurance marketplace will be best for their families and businesses. Without federal funding, some states could have difficulty establishing exchanges in a timely manner. This could lead to poor management of the exchanges, fewer health plans included on the exchanges, and years of delay in getting the exchanges up and running.”
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) opposed the amendment: “I stand in opposition to the Waters amendment because it does perpetuate the fallacy that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will actually provide affordable health care options….Washington will literally impose thousands of new requirements on plans that kindly bureaucrats are kind enough to allow poor Americans to buy in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's exchanges. The only way to make these federally controlled health plans affordable is through the massive subsidy contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act….I also reject the premise of this amendment….The underlying assumption of this amendment is that the Secretary of Health and Human Services should issue a report to judge the benefits of the regulations. Oh, by the way, regulations that her own department writes. Given the politically charged reports being issued by the Department of Health and Human Services since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we shouldn't pay for another taxpayer-financed advertisement for their health care law.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 178-242. Voting “yea” were 178 Democrats. All 231 Republicans present and 11 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have required the Health and Human Services Department to submit to Congress a report on the extent to which states were expected to have difficulties establishing health care “exchanges” without federal funding.