GOP Refuses To Shut Down Unpopular War On Health Care Reform

The Republican Party is historically unpopular after shutting down the government in a futile attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act. In fact, with a favorability rating of just 24 percent, Republicans are far less popular than the health care law, which a majority of Americans support or would like to make stronger. Yet the backlash against them has not convinced Republicans to give up their desperate crusade to take away people’s health care.

On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on the glitches in the Affordable Care Act’s recently launched insurance marketplaces. A memo from the committee’s Republican majority contends that the rollout “has been fraught with significant problems that are leading to major delays for Americans attempting to shop for health coverage.” However, a look back at President Bush’s Medicare Part D expansion shows Republicans –including some of the very same committee members holding today’s hearing – defending the need to give new health care programs enough time to succeed. For example, as then-Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) said, “This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be glitches.”

While the past conduct of these Republican committee members makes it abundantly clear that today’s hearing has nothing to do with improving people’s access to health care, the overall record of Republicans in Congress provides even more evidence that they are not genuinely concerned with the difficulties of obtaining health insurance. House Republicans have voted nearly 50 times to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act without offering any realistic replacement. Furthermore, Republicans have repeatedly approved radical budget proposals that would privatize Medicare and gut health care programs for children and the poor.

President Obama has declared that the glitches are unacceptable and must be fixed. But the record makes it clear that Republicans are more interested in partisan grandstanding than being part of the solution.

Timeline: Republicans Shut Down The Government To Stop Obamacare…

July 22: “Growing Support Among Republicans…To Shut Down The Government To Block Funding For Obamacare” According to Politico, “There is growing support among Republicans for a plan to shut down the government to block funding for Obamacare, Sen. Mike Lee said Monday. ‘Right now, this is the last stop before Obamacare fully kicks in on Jan. 1 of next year, for us to refuse to fund it,’ Lee said on Fox News ‘Fox and Friends.’ Lee said he has 13 or 14 senators with him on the issue and added that there is a parallel effort in the House. ‘Congress, of course, has to pass a law to continue funding government,’ he said. ‘Lately, we’ve been doing that through a funding mechanism called a continuing resolution. If Republicans in both houses simply refuse to vote for any continuing resolution that contains further funding for further enforcement of Obamacare, we can stop it, we can stop the individual mandate from going into effect.’” [Politico, 7/22/13]

August 21: “More Than A Third Of House Republicans Urged Their Leader…To Trigger A Government Shutdown Rather Than Fund” Obamacare. According to the Associated Press, “More than a third of House Republicans urged their leader Thursday to trigger a government shutdown rather than fund the implementation of the health care overhaul they call ‘Obamacare.’ A letter from 80 Republicans asked Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to resist any spending bills that would accommodate the new health care law, which is nearing a critical stage of signing up millions of Americans for health coverage. Because it’s virtually certain that President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate would reject such demands, leaders of both parties say the standoff likely would result in a partial shutdown of the federal government, similar to those that occurred in 1995 and 1996. […] The House letter was authored by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. It urges Boehner ‘to affirmatively de-fund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriations bill,’ including ‘any continuing appropriations bill.’” [Associated Press, 8/23/13; Meadows Letter , 8/21/13]

August 22: “Republicans See The Coming Weeks As Their Last Chance To Try To Stop Or Weaken The Law.” According to Reuters, “As Congress and Obama spar over spending and the debt limit this fall, Obama will also be focused on the rollout of key provisions of the health care law that kick in at the beginning of 2014. Republicans see the coming weeks as their last chance to try to stop or weaken the law.” [Reuters, 8/22/13]

August 22: Speaker Boehner Wanted To Pass Short-Term Spending Bill At Current Levels, But Conservatives Wanted To Include A Provision Defunding ObamaCare. According to the Wall Street Journal, “On a conference call Thursday evening with GOP lawmakers, Mr. Boehner said it was his ‘intent to move quickly’ when lawmakers return to Washington in September to pass a short-term spending bill at current levels that keeps the government running for 60 to 75 days, which would last until early or mid-November, according to several lawmakers who were on the call. […] Mr. Boehner met objections from several conservatives who want the spending bill to include a measure blocking funding for President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law—a conservative demand that many lawmakers have heard at town hall meetings this summer.” [Wall Street Journal, 8/22/13]

September 4: Battle Against Obamacare Emerging As “Central Fault Line In The Party’s Simmering Civil War.” According to NBC News, “Opposition to Obamacare has united the GOP for the past four years, but now it’s threatening to become a central fault line in the party’s simmering civil war. While still unified on philosophical grounds against President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, Republicans are no longer using ‘Obamacare’ to pummel Democrats so much as each other. The divide exists between Republicans engaged in a crusade to repeal the law at all costs and those resigned to accept a government program three years into its implementation. […] But a number of Tea Party affiliated conservatives insist the law can be vanquished, even if it means shutting down the government. In Congress, GOP leaders and a growing coterie of rank-and-file members have distanced themselves from a proposal that would threaten to shut down the government this fall unless Obamacare is defunded.” [NBC News, 9/4/13]

September 11: House Leaders Delayed Vote On “Stopgap Spending Bill To Avert A Shutdown…Because Of Continued Republican Divisions.” According to Politico, “A stopgap spending bill to avert a shutdown at the end of this month was pulled from the House schedule Wednesday because of continued Republican divisions over how far to go to challenge President Barack Obama on healthcare reform. A notice sent out by Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) advised members that there will no vote Thursday as had been expected. Leadership aides insisted that they still hope to act next week. But the GOP is clearly struggling with itself over how best to keep the government operating and placate conservatives who want to cut off all funding for implementing Obama’s signature reforms.” [Politico, 9/11/13]

September 20: “House Republicans Rallied Behind Their Right Wing” And Passed Bill To “Strip Funding From The Affordable Care Act.” According to the Washington Post, “House Republicans rallied behind their right wing Friday to launch a full-scale assault on President Obama’s health-care initiative, setting up a protracted confrontation with Democrats that risks shutting down the government in just 10 days. On a vote of 230 to 189, the House approved and sent to the Senate a plan to fund federal agencies past Sept. 30, but also to strip funding from the Affordable Care Act, the president’s most significant legislative achievement. ‘We had a victory today for the American people, and frankly, we also had a victory for common sense,” Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, surrounded by more than 200 cheering lawmakers at a news conference at the Capitol.” [Washington Post, 9/20/13]

September 24: Sen. Ted Cruz Delivered “All-Night Talk-A-Thon On The Need To Defund Obamacare.” According to ABC News, “Sen. Ted Cruz’s all-night talk-a-thon on the need to defund Obamacare finally ended today, clocking in at 21 hours and 19 minutes. ‘This was all about elevating the debate in the public and giving the American people the chance to speak,’ Cruz told ABC News after his marathon speech. ‘At this point, the debate is in the hands of the American people.’ […] After the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution, which strips Obamacare of its funding last week, Cruz vowed to use every procedural measure possible, including a filibuster, to keep the Senate from restoring the funding. But Cruz’s overnight speech was technically not a filibuster and won’t do much to delay or prevent the votes.” [ABC News, 9/25/13]

September 27: Senate Passed Bill To Prevent Shutdown, Preserve Obamacare Funding. According to the Associated Press, “The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Friday that would continue to fund the government past the end of the curent fiscal year, but would not strip funding for Obamacare. That sets up a showdown with Republicans in the House of Representatives, who passed a government funding bill that would have also defunded the president’s signature initiative, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives have been trying to use the must-pass bill as a way to kill or weaken 2010 Obama’s health care law.” [Associated Press, 9/27/13]

September 29: “House Republicans Forced Through A Short-Term Government Funding Bill That Delays Obamacare And Permanently Repeals A Tax On Medical Devices.” According to Politico, “House Republicans forced through a short-term government funding bill that delays Obamacare and permanently repeals a tax on medical devices, setting up their most dramatic face-off ever with President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats. […]The move represents a complete about-face by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the House Republican leadership. They wanted to shift the focus of health care and budgetary squabbles onto the debt ceiling fight, but conservative Republicans honed in on the government funding battle. This strategy — forced upon Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) by the conservative rank-and-file — dramatically increased the chances of a government shutdown come Oct. 1.” [Politico, 9/28/13]

September 30: House Republicans Passed Government Funding Bill That Delayed Individual Mandate By One Year. According to the Washington Post, “Hours before a midnight deadline, the Republican House passed its third proposal in two weeks to fund the government for a matter of weeks. Like the previous plans, the new one sought to undermine the Affordable Care Act, this time by delaying enforcement of the “individual mandate,” a cornerstone of the law that requires all Americans to obtain health insurance. The new measure also sought to strip lawmakers and their aides of long-standing government health benefits.” [Washington Post, 9/30/13]

October 1: Government Forced To Shut Down For First Time In 17 Years. According to Bloomberg, “The U.S. government began its first partial shutdown in 17 years, idling as many as 800,000 federal employees, closing national parks and halting some services after Congress failed to break a partisan deadlock by a midnight deadline.” [Bloomberg, 10/1/13]

…And Were Overwhelmingly Rejected By The American People

August 28: “Voters Do Not Approve Of Cutting Off Funding To Implement President Obama’s Health Care Plan.” According to The Hill, “Voters do not approve of cutting off funding to implement President Obama’s healthcare plan, according to the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. In Kaiser’s latest survey, 57 percent of respondents said they disapprove of defunding the law, compared with 36 percent who approve of the strategy. A group of conservative Republicans is pressing its party leaders to shut down the federal government unless and until Obama agrees to stop implementing his signature legislative achievement.” [The Hill, 8/28/13]

  • Majority Of Poll Respondents: “Without Funding The Law Will Be Crippled And Won’t Work As Planned.” According to The Hill, “Critics of the defunding strategy don’t necessarily believe that Congress should quit debating the healthcare law, the poll found. Among those who said they oppose the defunding strategy, just 35 percent agreed with the statement, ‘we’ve heard enough about the health care law and it’s time to move on to something else.’ Sixty-nine percent said the appropriate way to stop a law is to repeal it and that defunding is ‘not the way our government should work,’ and 56 percent said they oppose defunding the law because ‘without funding the law will be crippled and won’t work as planned.’” [The Hill, 8/28/13]

October 1: “American Voters Oppose 72 – 22 Percent Congress Shutting Down The Federal Government To Block Implementation Of The Affordable Care Act.” According to Quinnipiac, “American voters opposed 72 – 22 percent Congress shutting down the government to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Voters also oppose 64 – 27 blocking an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling as a way to stop Obamacare, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. American voters are divided on Obamacare, with 45 percent in favor and 47 opposed, but they are opposed 58 – 34 percent to Congress cutting off funding for the health care law to stop its implementation. Republicans support the federal government shutdown by a narrow 49 – 44 percent margin, but opposition is 90 – 6 percent among Democrats and 74 – 19 percent among independent voters.” [, 10/1/13]

October 7: GOP Disapproval “Shot Up To 70 Percent” From 63 Percent In First Week Of Shutdown. According to the Washington Post, “Disapproval of congressional Republicans’ budget wrangling after a weeklong shutdown has shot up to 70 percent, with 51 percent disapproving “strongly,” according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. At the same time, President Obama’s approval rating has ticked up due to improved marks among moderate Democrats and independents. […] A Post-ABC poll last week found 63 percent disapproving of Republicans, a number that has grown to 70 percent in the past week. Strong disapproval has grown from 42 to 51 percent over the same period.” [Washington Post, 10/7/13]

October 10: “The Republican Party Has Been Badly Damaged” By The Shutdown, With Poll Finding GOP Favorability At All-Time Low. According to NBC News, “The Republican Party has been badly damaged in the ongoing government shutdown and debt limit standoff, with a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finding that a majority of Americans blame the GOP for the shutdown, and with the party’s popularity declining to its lowest level. By a 22-point margin (53 percent to 31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama – a wider margin of blame for the GOP than the party received during the poll during the last shutdown in 1995-96. Just 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion about the GOP, and only 21 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, which are both at all-time lows in the history of poll.” [NBC News, 10/10/13]

October 14: “74 Percent Of American Disapprove Of The Way Republicans In Congress Are Handling Washington’s Budget Crisis.” According to ABC News, “A new high of 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way the Republicans in Congress are handling Washington’s budget crisis, up significantly in the past two weeks and far exceeding disapproval of both President Obama and congressional Democrats on the issue. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that criticism of the GOP’s handling of the budget dispute has grown by 11 percentage points since just before the partial government shutdown began, from 63 to 70 and now 74 percent – clearly leaving the party with the lion’s share of blame. Indeed 54 percent now ‘strongly’ disapprove.”  [ABC News, 10/14/13]

  • Majority Of Conservatives Also Disapproved Of GOP’s Handling Of The Shutdown. According to ABC News, “In terms of ideology, 59 percent of conservatives disapprove of how the Republicans in Congress are handling the issue, despite their generally closer alignment with GOP policies. Obama’s disapproval among liberals is far lower – 32 percent. And moderates roughly divide on Obama’s approach (49 percent disapprove), while broadly criticizing the Republicans, with 80 percent disapproval.” [ABC News, 10/14/13]

October 21: After Shutdown, Majority Says GOP Control Of House Is Bad For America. According to CNN, “Just more than half the public says that it’s bad for the country that the GOP controls the House of Representatives, according to a new national poll conducted after the end of the partial government shutdown. And the CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that more than six in 10 Americans say that Speaker of the House John Boehner should be replaced.The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, just after the end of the 16-day partial federal government shutdown that was caused in part by a push by House conservatives to try and dismantle the health care law, which is President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. According to the survey, 54% say it’s a bad thing that the GOP controls the House, up 11 points from last December, soon after the 2012 elections when the Republicans kept control of the chamber. Only 38% say it’s a good thing the GOP controls the House, a 13-point dive from the end of last year. This is the first time since the Republicans won back control of the House in the 2010 elections that a majority say their control of the chamber is bad for the country.” [, 10/21/13]

Majority Of Americans “Either Support Obamacare, Or Say It’s Not Liberal Enough.” According to CNN, “Even though they lost this round, conservatives vow to continue their fight to dismantle Obamacare. And they point to major troubles with the rollout of the website where Americans without insurance can enroll in the new health care exchanges. The president is expected to address the law, and the glitches, at an event Monday at the White House. According to the poll, just more than four in 10 say they favor the law, with 56% opposed to it. But of those opposed, 38% say they are against the law because they think it’s too liberal and 12% say it’s not liberal enough. That means that 53% either support Obamacare, or say it’s not liberal enough. The health care numbers are little changed from late last month, just before the start of the shutdown.” [, 10/21/13]

Despite Early Problems, GOP Lawmakers – Including Some Of The Very Same Committee Members Holding Today’s Hearing – Defended Medicare Part D

November 2005: “The Rollout Of The New Medicare Drug Benefit Has Been Anything But Smooth.” According to the Washington Post, “The rollout of the new Medicare drug benefit has been anything but smooth. At a news briefing yesterday, Mark B. McClellan, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, provided a how-to demonstration of the much-awaited Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, which he said would be available on by 3 p.m. It wasn’t. The online interactive tool has been pitched as a high-tech way to help the 43 million Medicare beneficiaries sort through all the drug coverage choices. After seniors key in their name, birth date, the names of drugs they take and other information, the Web site spits out a personalized list of drug plans in their area ranked by annual cost. Advocates for seniors say they expect the tool to be an indispensable aid in signing people up for this significant new government-sponsored benefit. Problem is, the Medicare folks have had some trouble getting the tool up and running. The original debut date was Oct. 13, but officials delayed it, citing the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Next it was promised on Oct. 17, but that day, too, came and went without personalized plan comparisons being available.” [Washington Post, 11/8/05]

January 2006: “Rising Discontent With…New Prescription Drug Benefit.” According to the Washington Post, “President Bush’s top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.” [Washington Post, 1/18/06]

  • “State Officials And Health Care Experts Continued To Report Widespread Difficulties, Especially For The Poorest And Sickest Seniors.” According to the Washington Post, “Even as federal leaders touted the enrollment figures, state officials and health care experts continued to report widespread difficulties, especially for the poorest and sickest seniors who were forced to switch from state Medicaid programs to the new Medicare plans on Jan. 1. Nearly two dozen states have intervened, saying they will pay for medications for any low-income senior who is mistakenly rejected. The District, Maryland and Virginia have not intervened.” [Washington Post, 1/18/06]

Bush HHS Secretary: “Since This Is A New Program, Some People May Experience A Problem.” According to the Washington Post, “[Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike] Leavitt conceded that HHS caseworkers have responded to tens of thousands of complaints by seniors, pharmacists and others who could not get the correct medications at the correct price. But he promised to ‘fix every problem as quickly as possible.’ To do that, HHS has hired thousands of customer service representatives and set up special phone lines for pharmacists. It also has notified insurers that if a drug is not going to be covered, the plans must provide a 30-day ‘transitional’ supply until the patient’s physician can recommend a comparable medicine that is covered. ‘Since this is a new program, some people may experience a problem the first time they go to get their medicines, but we’re confident that after you use it once, things are going to go more smoothly,’ he said. ‘If you are one of those seniors experiencing problems, our message is don’t leave the pharmacy without your drugs.’” [Washington Post, 1/18/06]

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)

Barton was chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the 109th Congress, where he used the term “glitches” to defend the rollout of the Medicare Part D website.

Barton On Medicare Part D: “This Is A Huge Undertaking And There Are Going To Be Glitches.” According to a press release, in a congressional hearing on the Administration’s FY ’07 Health Care Priorities, Rep. Joe Barton said, “‘This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be glitches. My goal is the same as yours: Get rid of the glitches. The committee will work closely with yourself and Dr. Mark McClellan at CMS to get problems noticed and solved.” [Barton Statement via, 2/15/06]

  • Barton: “The Result Is Not Perfect,” But Program Is Still A “Success” And “Not A Failure.” According to a transcript of a congressional hearing titled “Medicare Part D: Implementation of the New Drug Benefit” before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) said, “Medicare is finally providing patients with prescription drugs after years of false starts, failed attempts and endless debate. Congress finally delivered on its promise and created a Medicare prescription drug benefit. The result is not perfect. In fact, it is no secret that during those negotiations and markups several years ago, I unsuccessfully sought to make several changes when we debated the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 in this very room. At the end of the day, however, I voted for the bill, voted for it in committee, voted for it on the floor, and voted for it in conference. We negotiated a compromise that has created what we now call the program, Medicare Part D. Where our critics before us had failed for 40 years, that Congress and now this Congress has delivered a Medicare prescription drug benefit for millions of senior citizens. We are now in the sixtieth day of this new benefit. Although you wouldn’t believe it from some accounts, more than five million seniors have enrolled in the new Medicare prescription drug benefit plan. Another 20 million are getting assistance in existing plans that Medicare is helping to subsidize in some way. That adds up to 25 million seniors, and they are signing up at the rate of about a half a million a week. That sounds like a success to me, not a failure.” [“Medicare Part D: Implementation of the New Drug Benefit” via, 3/1/06]
  • Barton: “I Would hope That We Can Work Together As We Go Through The Implementation Phase To Find Out What Is Wrong With The Program And If We Can Make Some Changes To Fix It.” According to a transcript of a congressional hearing titled “Medicare Part D: Implementation of the New Drug Benefit” before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) said, “Rather than trying to scare and confuse seniors, I would hope that we can work together as we go through the implementation phase to find out what is wrong with the program and if we can make some changes to fix it, let us do it and let us do it on a bipartisan basis. We owe that to all of the millions of Medicare beneficiaries. We are going to hold aggressive oversight over the implementation of this plan. It is too big of a program and it is too important to too many people not to do that. But having said that, if it does appear that it is working, let us admit it, you know, let us not keep beating a dead horse.” [“Medicare Part D: Implementation of the New Drug Benefit” via, 3/1/06]

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)

Murphy On Medicare Part D: “Any Time There Is Something New, There Is Going To Be Some Glitches.” According to the Congressional Record, in a floor speech on April 6, 2006, Rep. Tim Murphy said, “Any time something is new, there is going to be some glitches. All of us, when our children were new, well, we knew as parents we didn’t exactly know everything we were doing and we had a foul-up or two, but we persevered and our children turned out well. No matter what one does in life, when it is something new in learning the ropes of it, it is going to take a little adjustment. But as we were signing up 27 million seniors at a rate sometimes approaching 400,000 a week, the system wasn’t always perfectly ready for all of them, and there were some glitches, particularly for some folks who were dual eligible. But the point is HHS or Medicare responded, put extra people on board, worked out some of the glitches, and I am pleased to say that many of the seniors that I talked to are very pleased with this program.” [Murphy Floor Speech via Congressional Record, 4/6/06]

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)

Burgess On Medicare Part D: “I Do Believe That Fundamentally It Is A Good Plan.” According to a transcript of a congressional hearing titled “Medicare Part D: Implementation of the New Drug Benefit” before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) said, “We can’t undo the past, but certainly they can make the argument that we are having this hearing a month late and perhaps we are, but the reality is the prescription drug benefit is 40 years late and seniors who signed up for Medicare those first days back in 1965 when they were 65 years of age are now 106 years of age waiting for that prescription drug benefit, so I hope it doesn’t take us that long to get this right and I don’t believe that it will. And I do believe that fundamentally it is a good plan.” [“Medicare Part D: Implementation of the New Drug Benefit” via, 3/1/06]

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA)

Rep. Phil Gingrey On Medicare Part D: “I Delivered 5,200 Babies, But This May Be The Best Delivery I Have Ever Been A Part Of.” According to the Congressional Record, in a floor speech on April 6, 2006, Rep. Phil Gingrey said, “I am very happy, of course, to be here tonight to take this leadership hour and talk about something that is really near and dear to my heart but, more importantly, near and dear to the hearts of 41, 42 million seniors in this country who finally, because of the leadership of this Congress, the Republican leadership and this President, have delivered on a promise that was made years ago. And that delivery, I know a lot about them because as an OB/GYN physician before coming to Congress, I delivered 5,200 babies, but this may be the best delivery that I have ever been a part of, Mr. Speaker, and that is delivering, as I say, on a promise made by former Congresses and other Presidents over the 45-year history of the Medicare program, which was introduced in 1965 with no prescription drug benefit. And what we have done here is add part D, the ‘D’ for ‘drug’ or, if you want, the ‘delivery’ that we have finally provided to our American seniors. This prescription drug benefit is a wonderful thing, and, of course, we are going to talk about that tonight.” [Gingrey Floor Speech via Congressional Record, 4/6/06]

  • Gingrey Op-Ed:  There Are “People Trying To Play Politics With Our Seniors’ Health By Encouraging Them Not To Enroll.” According to an op-ed written by Rep. Phil Gingrey in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Our seniors are proving the naysayers wrong. For months, we’ve heard Democrats in Congress telling our seniors that prescription drug coverage under Medicare is too complicated, won’t save them money and isn’t worth their time. […] A recent Washington Post poll found 74 percent of seniors thought enrollment was easy, and 63 percent reported savings in just the first few months. AARP, our nation’s leading senior advocate, reports that 78 percent of surveyed seniors are happy with the benefit. And yet, there are still people trying to play politics with our seniors’ health by encouraging them not to enroll. Seniors now have 15 days left to participate in Medicare drug coverage without paying a higher premium penalty, and it is absolutely imperative that in these final days, reality triumphs rhetoric.” [Gingrey Op-Ed, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/1/06]

GOP Has Made Defeating Health Care Reform Their Mission

GOP Campaigned On Repealing Health Care Reform In 2010. According to CNN, “During the runup to the midterm elections, Republicans campaigned heavily on repealing and replacing the law. They cited the ‘will of the people’ — noting that voters, especially members of the Tea Party movement, overwhelmingly rejected the Democrats’ policies. After their historic gains in the midterms, Republicans now control the House and hold a large number of seats in the Senate, and they are living up to that promise. The GOP has been saying that the law as currently written will hamper prospects for long-term economic growth while doing little to slow spiraling medical costs.” [CNN, 1/19/11]

Before Shutting Down The Government, House GOP Voted 46 Times To Repeal Or Defund The Affordable Care Act. According to Talking Points Memo, “House Republicans are racking up the Obamacare repeal votes in the government shutdown fight. The GOP-led House has now voted 46 times to repeal, defund or dismantle President Barack Obma’s [sic] signature achievement. Prior to the government funding battle, the tally stood at 41, the latest one on Sept. 12. The 42nd vote vote [sic] was to defund Obamacare in a continuing resolution. When the Senate killed that, House Republicans held two votes on amendments to delay the law for one year and to repeal its medical device tax. Up to 44. Then after the Senate killed that, too, the House GOP held a vote to delay the law’s individual mandate and prohibit health insurance subsidies for members of Congress and staff. 45 votes. After yet another Senate rejection, and in the first hour of a government shutdown, the House voted to request conference negotiations while re-affirming their previous Obamacare repeal vote. 46 votes.” [Talking Points Memo, 10/1/13]

Between January 2011 And May 2013, House Republicans Spent 15 Percent Of Their Floor Time Trying To Repeal Health Care Reform. According to the New York Times, “The repeal vote, which is likely to occur Thursday, will be at least the 43rd day since Republicans took over the House that they have devoted time to voting on the issue. To put that in perspective, they have held votes on only 281 days since taking power in January 2011. (The House and Senate have pretty light legislative loads these days, typically voting only three or four days a week.) That means that since 2011, Republicans have spent no less than 15 percent of their time on the House floor on repeal in some way.” [New York Times, 5/14/13]

GOP Shut Down Government Over Health Care Reform. According to NPR, “Remember how that fight over the budget was all about Obamacare? Seems like ancient history now, but House Republicans ostensibly shut down the government 17 days ago, demanding first a defunding, and, when that failed, a year’s delay in the health law. When it became clear that President Obama and Senate Democrats weren’t going to yield to demands to stop or slow implementation of the administration’s signature legislative achievement, Republicans looked for smaller changes. They floated the idea of killing or delaying an unpopular tax on medical devices. Many Senate Democrats joined Republicans in a nonbinding vote of displeasure on the tax earlier this year. The Republicans also looked to take away health insurance contributions for congressional and executive branch staffers. And they proposed to delay a temporary $63 annual per-person health insurance tax intended to build a fund to help pay for high-cost cases. None of those things ended up in the final bill that reopened the federal government and raised the debt ceiling Wednesday night.” [NPR, 10/17/13]

GOP Hoping To Campaign On Exchange Glitches In 2014. According to the Associated Press, “While Congress was arguing, President Barack Obama’s plan to expand coverage for the uninsured suffered a self-inflicted wound. A computer system seemingly designed by gremlins gummed up the first open enrollment season. After nearly three weeks, it’s still not fixed. Republicans hope to ride that and other defects they see in the law into the 2014 congressional elections. Four Democratic senators are facing re-election for the first time since they voted for the Affordable Care Act, and their defeat is critical to GOP aspirations for a Senate majority.” [Associated Press, 10/21/13]

GOP Repeatedly Sought To Pass Budgets Gutting Key Health Care Programs                                                      

GOP’s Plan To Defund ACA Would Have Gutted Children’s Health Insurance Program. According to the Huffington Post, “A House Republican proposal to defund the Affordable Care Act would also devastate a program that insured over 8 million moderate-income children this year, Democrats said on Thursday. Under the government funding bill proposed by the House — which includes Rep. Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) amendment defunding Obamacare — the Children’s Health Insurance Program would lose about $13.3 billion dollars, or 70 percent of its funding, on October 1. CHIP provides health insurance coverage to children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still cannot afford private coverage. The program was set to expire at the end of this month, but the Affordable Care Act reauthorized and funded it through 2015.” [Huffington Post, 9/19/13]

FY 2014 Budget

GOP’s 2014 Budget Turns Medicare Into A Voucher Program, Shifting Costs Onto Patients. According to the Associated Press, “House Republicans unveiled their latest budget outline on Tuesday, sticking to their plans to try to repeal so-called Obamacare, cut domestic programs ranging from Medicaid to college grants and require future Medicare patients to bear more of the program’s cost. […] For his part, Ryan has resurrected a controversial Medicare proposal that replaces traditional Medicare for those currently under 55 with a government subsidy to buy health insurance on the open market.” [Associated Press, 3/12/13]

  • Budget Cuts Medicare Spending $356 Over A Decade. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The Ryan budget would cut Medicare spending by $356 billion over the 2013 – 2023 period compared to CBPP’s current-policy baseline.  It would save $129 billion by repealing the Medicare benefit improvements in health reform (including closure of the prescription drug “donut hole”), limiting medical malpractice awards, and raising income-tested premiums.  Ryan’s budget also includes $138 billion in scheduled cuts from Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula for physicians and $89 billion in Medicare cuts from sequestration.” [CBPP, 3/15/13]

House GOP’s 2014 Budget Plan Proposed To Cut Medicaid And CHIP By A Combined $810 Billion Over A Decade. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “The House GOP plan again proposes sharp cuts to the Medicaid health program for the poor, tighter food stamp eligibility rules and claims $1.8 trillion in savings over a decade by repealing Obama’s signature overhaul of the U.S. health care system. (A small share of these cuts could come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which the Ryan budget would merge into its new Medicaid block grant.)  This would be an estimated cut to federal Medicaid and CHIP funding of about 21 percent over ten years relative to current law and comes on top of the loss of the significant additional funding that states are slated to receive under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid coverage, and to extend their CHIP programs through 2015.” [CBPP, 3/27/13]

  • Nearly All House Republicans Voted For GOP’s 2014 Budget Plan. 221 Republicans voted in favor of the GOP’s 2014 budget plan, while ten voted against the plan. No Democrats voted in favor. [H. Con. Res. 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]
  • All But Five Senate Republicans Voted For Plan.  According to the Huffington Post, “The Senate has soundly rejected a balanced budget plan authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Five Republicans joined every Democrat present to kill the measure, which failed on a 40-59 vote.” [Huffington Post, 3/22/13]

FY 2013 Budget Plan

2013 Budget Would Cut Medicare By $205 Billion. According to the New York Times, “A fierce two-day debate over a Republican budget plan portrayed as either a path to prosperity or a road to ruin ended Thursday with House passage of a blueprint that would transform Medicare, cut domestic spending to levels not seen since World War II and order up a drastic overhaul of the tax code.[…] Medicare would be reduced by $205 billion. […] Medicare would be turned into a subsidized set of private insurance plans, with the option of buying into the existing fee-for-service program. The annual growth of those subsidies would be capped just above economic growth, well below the current health care inflation rate.” [New York Times, 3/30/12]

House GOP’s 2013 Budget Would Have Cut Medicaid And Other Health Programs By $770 Billion. According to the New York Times, “Medicaid and other health programs would be cut $770 billion.” [New York Times, 3/30/12]

  • Only 10 House Republicans Voted Against Budget. According to the New York Times, “The plan, which passed 228 to 191, with no Democratic votes and 10 Republican defections, will form the template around which much of the 2012 election will be fought.” [New York Times, 3/30/12]
  • In Senate, 41 Republicans Voted For Budget And Only Five Voted Against It. Forty-one senators, all Republicans, voted to proceed on the House Republican budget. Five Republicans joined all the Democratic senators in rejecting the measure. [H. Con. Res. 112, Vote # 98, 5/16/12]

FY 2012 Budget Plan

2012 Budget Plan Would Have Privatized Medicare Policies And Raised Eligibility Age. According to the Washington Post, “Ryan’s budget, titled ‘The Path to Prosperity,’ would spend about $40 trillion over the next decade — $6.2 trillion less than the budget President Obama proposed in February. The bulk of the savings would come from federal health-care programs, starting with a repeal of Obama’s ambitious new initiative to expand coverage for the uninsured. Starting in 2022, Ryan also would end Medicare as an open-ended entitlement for new retirees and begin slowly raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. Instead of getting government-paid benefits, retirees could choose a private policy on a newly established Medicare exchange.” [Washington Post, 4/15/11]

  • Plan Would Force Medicare Beneficiaries’ Out-Of Pocket Spending To “Rise Dramatically.” According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Moreover, CBO estimates that the total health care costs attributable to Medicare beneficiaries would be considerably higher under the private insurance plans they would purchase under the Ryan plan than under a continuation of traditional Medicare, because private plans have higher administrative expenses and higher payment rates for providers.  Since the Ryan proposal would reduce the federal government’s contribution for beneficiaries’ health care costs even as it caused total costs to increase, beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending would rise dramatically. In 2022, the first year the voucher would apply, CBO estimates that total health care expenditures for a typical 65-year-old would be almost 40 percent higher with private coverage under the Ryan plan than they would be with a continuation of traditional Medicare.  (See graph.)  CBO also finds that this beneficiary’s annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500.  In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater.” [CBPP, 4/7/11]

House GOP’s 2012 Budget Would Have Cut Medicaid By Over $700 Billion Over A Decade. According to the Washington Post, “House Republicans approved a budget on Friday that would fundamentally alter Medicare and Medicaid, lower taxes on individuals and corporations and cut $4.4 trillion from the nation’s deficit over the next decade. […] Medicaid would come in for even sharper cuts, exceeding $700 billion over the next decade. The GOP plan would end the financing partnership between the federal government and the states, replacing it with block grants that give states less money and free them to manage the program as they wish.” [Washington Post, 4/15/11]

Budget Would Slash CHIP Funding. According to The Hill, “The 2012 budget proposal released by House Republicans this week would slash funding for a popular children’s healthcare program, leaving children’s welfare advocates wondering where millions of low-income enrollees would turn for care. The GOP’s 85-page budget blueprint doesn’t mention the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but CHIP would lose tens of billions of dollars under the proposal, which was unveiled Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). While the Democrats’ new healthcare reform law extended CHIP through 2019 — and expanded funding through 2015 — the Ryan budget blueprint would repeal most of the that law, including the CHIP language, according to Ryan spokesman Stephen Spruiell.” [The Hill, 4/8/11]

  • All But Four House Republicans Voted For 2012 Budget. According to the Washington Post, “All but four Republicans voted for Ryan’s 2012 budget blueprint, and every Democrat present voted against it, for a final tally of 235 to 193.” [Washington Post, 4/15/11]
  • Most Senate Republicans Voted For House GOP’s 2012 Budget. Out of the 47 Republicans in the Senate in 2011, 40 voted to move forward on the House-passed 2012 budget. [H. Con. Res. 34, Vote #77, 5/25/11]

2010 Republican Alternative Budget

In 2009, Most House Republicans Voted For Alternative Budget With “Premium Support” Medicare Plan. According to Talking Points Memo, “In 2009, 137 [of] their 178-member minority, including Boehner, voted for the Republican alternative budget, authored by — whom else — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). That budget will sound familiar. It ‘[p]reserves the current Medicare program for individuals 55 and older. For those under 55, the resolution gradually converts the current Medicare program into one in which Medicare beneficiaries receive a premium support payment — equivalent to 100 percent of the cost of the Medicare benefit — to purchase health coverage from a menu of Medicare-approved plans, similar to options available to members of Congress.’ The plan also reduced the prescription drug benefit for seniors with household incomes over $170,000.” [Talking Points Memo, 10/18/13]

2010 Roadmap For America’s Future

In 2010, Ryan Introduced “Roadmap For America’s Future” That Proposed Converting Medicare, Medicaid, And CHIP Into Vouchers. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “The Ryan plan would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), converting these health programs largely to vouchers that low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities could use to help buy insurance in the private health insurance market. Under Ryan’s plan, the value of the vouchers would fall further behind the rising cost of health care with each passing year, so they would purchase less health coverage over time. By 2080, Medicare would be cut 76 percent below its projected size under current policies, according to CBO. In other words, by 2080, the vouchers that would replace Medicare would receive one-quarter of the resources that Medicare would otherwise use.” [CBPP, 7/7/10]

Paul Ryan’s 2007 Alternative

In 2007, Most House Republicans Voted For Ryan Budget Capping Medicare Spending And Instating More Means Testing. According to Talking Points Memo, “In 2007, a similar story played out when 159 of their 202-member minority, including Boehner, voted for Ryan’s alternative. That version of his plan would have capped Medicare spending and cut it relative to the growth of health care costs, and would have imposed further means testing of the program. It didn’t lay out the precise privatization scheme included in the 2009 and 2011 Republican budgets, but it envisioned ‘a reform strategy that will advance the transformation of Medicare into a vital and flexible program that can meet its mission without imposing unmanageable burdens on the Nation’s medical community, and its economy.’” [Talking Points Memo, 10/18/13]

GOP Nearly Shut Down Government Over Defunding Planned Parenthood

In 2011, GOP’s Attempt To Defund Planned Parenthood “Very Nearly Caused The Shutdown Of The Federal Government.” According to NPR, “A lot of people were surprised when House Republicans’ desire to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood very nearly caused the shutdown of the federal government last week. ‘I would assume that most Americans would be surprised, if not shocked, to learn that the largest abortion provider in America is also the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X,’ Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said in January when he introduced legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding. Title X is the federal family planning program. While the use of federal funds for abortion has been banned since the 1970s, and for the entire history of the family planning program, that is only a technicality to Pence and his anti-abortion allies.” [NPR, 4/13/11]

  • Majority Of House Republicans Voted For Pence Amendment Cutting Off Planned Parenthood Funding. According to Politico, “The House just approved Rep. Mike Pence’s amendment to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, checking off a hot-button social issue even as it set up a bigger showdown over defunding the health care law. The vote was 240-185 with 11 Democrats voting for the amendment, and seven Republicans voting against. One member voted present. A group of Republicans on the floor applauded when the vote hit 218.” [Politico, 2/18/11]

Planned Parenthood’s Title X Funding Supports Contraception, Cancer Screenings, And STD Testing But Does Not Pay For Abortions. According to ABC News, “Republicans want to block $70 million Planned Parenthood receives each year under Title X, a program implemented under Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970 to provide contraceptives, cancer screenings, and pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease testing at community health centers across the country. And they want to cut off $293 million the clincis receive through Medicare. Conservative lawmakers say the money indirectly subsidizes abortions, despite the fact that the federal Hyde Amendment expressly prohibits such use of taxpayer funds.” [ABC News, 4/8/11]

In 2012, GOP Spending Bill Tried To Defund Family Planning, Block Obamacare, Let Employers Opt Out Of Birth Control Coverage, And Increase Abstinence-Only Education. According to the Huffington Post, “Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) released a labor, health and education spending bill on Tuesday that would defund Planned Parenthood and Title X, block the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, allow any employer to deny women birth control coverage under the ACA for “moral reasons” and increase spending for abstinence-only education. Specifically, the bill prevents federal dollars from flowing to Planned Parenthood clinics until the family planning provider can certify that it no longer offers abortions, even though Planned Parenthood only uses federal money for non-abortion services. The legislation also states that none of its funds can be used to carry out the Title X family planning program or be used to “implement, administer, enforce, or further the provisions” of the Affordable Care Act. The bill scraps the provision in Obamacare that requires insurance plans to cover birth control and other preventative health services, allowing any issuer or sponsor of a group health insurance plan to refuse to cover any health care service ‘on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions.’ It also increases restrictions on educating abortion physicians beyond current law and allocates $20 million for ‘competitive grants to provide abstinence education to adolescents.’” [Huffington Post, 7/18/12]

In 2013, GOP Revived Attempt To Defund Planned Parenthood. According to MSNBC, “In 2011, then-Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana introduced a bill to strip funding from Planned Parenthood because the organization offers abortion services. Pence was  comfortable saying that he would hold up the passage of a budget in order to make sure that Planned Parenthood lost federal funding. Pence has left Congress and Planned Parenthood still receives federal funding. All the same, not one, but two members of Congress have reintroduced the bill to defund Planned Parenthood. On the ‘Mike Huckabee Show’ earlier this week, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn defended her decision to bring back the bill, saying ‘Planned Parenthood is basically big abortion business.’ […] Rep. Blackburn is joined by her colleague, Rep. Diane Black, who reintroduced the same bill.” [MSNBC, 1/9/13]