Congress ready to use Obamacare savings for medical innovation bill
Posted: 7:48 am Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
Even as Republicans try to figure out how best to repeal and replace the health law changes made by President Obama, lawmakers in Congress are on the verge of approving a bill that would funnel almost $4 billion dollars from the controversial health law into government programs for medical innovation.
Tucked away in the almost one thousand pages of the plan known as the “21st Century Cures Act” are two provisions that shift the contents of two pots of money funded through Obamacare, a move that has drawn some fire from outside health groups.
With the backing of many Democrats in the Congress, and President Obama, the bill strips out $3.5 billion from the Prevention and Public Health fund, and another $464 million would be taken from a health fund that goes to United States territories.
“Both the Prevention Fund and 21st Century Cures deserve full funding – raiding one to pay for the other doesn’t make sense,” argued the Prevention Institute, a nonprofit group that deals with health research.
Moving the almost $4 billion away from those two funds related to the Obama health law comes at an interesting point, as the GOP will certainly be searching for available money to deal with efforts to repeal the health law in 2017.
The Congressional Budget Office says this “Cures” bill would reduce the deficit by almost $6 billion over ten years, so the extra money from the health law is not expressly needed to balance this legislation.
The Cures bill now awaits a final vote in the Senate. Senators voted 85-13 on Monday to shut off debate on the plan.