This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) that would have required the Health and Human Services Department to submit to Congress a report on delays and reduced in enrollment in health insurance “exchanges” (regulated marketplaces in which the uninsured could purchase subsidized health insurance) as a result of revoking federal funding that had been provided for those exchanges. 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 revoked federal funding for those state-based exchanges.
Ellison urged support for his amendment: “I offer an amendment to say, if we're going to do this, if we're going to take away from the American people these exchanges that are going to give them a little bit of relief, let's at least know what we're doing. Let's at least figure out what the effects are going to be on the American people instead of just snatching out of their hands these exchanges that are designed to give them a little bit of relief from the health care insurance companies. Let's find out who is going to be delayed and what potential enrollment reductions are going to exist. Let's figure it out. This is an important and a meritorious amendment, and I think the least the Republican Conference can do is to say, You know what? If we are going to go back to the bad old days, which was before the Affordable Care Act was passed, at least we ought to know what harm we are going to be doing to the American people.”
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) opposed the amendment: “The amendment would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit a report on the possible delays and potential enrollment reductions in health benefit exchanges. Now, here is a bit of irony. The reason we need this bill is that the authors were either inadvertently providing the Secretary of HHS an unprecedented unlimited tap on the Federal Treasury for these grants or they meant to provide this blank check to the Secretary. Now the amendment would ask the same Secretary to evaluate the impact of taking away their authority to spend unlimited money. I wonder how they're going to rule on that?... it is a conflict of interest to ask the Secretary to report on whether the Secretary believes that unlimited funding and numerous authorities to control the exchanges are a bad or a good thing. I also reject the notion that only an exchange designed and controlled by Washington, D.C., can reduce the number of uninsured.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 180-242. Voting “yea” were 180 Democrats. All 234 Republicans present and 8 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 delays and reduced in enrollment in health insurance “exchanges” as a result of revoking federal funding that had been provided for those exchanges.