The White House is warning Congress against going ahead with an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system after Republicans failed to agree on a budget.
US President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office in New York, November 17, 2015. Reuters
The White House’s threat comes ahead of a vote in Congress on Tuesday that could set up an epic showdown over the nation’s health-care system. President Obama will deliver a letter to House Republicans warning them to back down from proposing a bill that he says will result in millions of people losing insurance.
A draft of the GOP bill passed earlier on Friday, and if passed it could result in 26m fewer Americans having health insurance as early as later this March. It would also cut $800bn worth of taxes over the next 10 years, but the White House has said it would be cheaper to pay for it by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood.
“There’s always going to be some people that are trying to make their political arguments and not the facts,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. “But as an example of the kind of politics that is going to be used to sell this bill, it’s not surprising that some of that kind of rhetoric would have an impact.”
Republicans have pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare, Obama’s signature healthcare law, but so far they have been unable to find a deal. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have both vowed to make their own healthcare plan, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the cornerstone of their agenda when Congress returns from its August recess in September.
Obama said in his letter that there was “absolutely no justification, no rationale” for the House to move forward with a bill “even if it repeals essential protections for those who have made a genuine commitment to get the health care they’ve earned”.
The White House has argued that it would be cheaper to fund the programme’s subsidies – which are intended to ensure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare – with lower tax increases rather than cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Obama has repeatedly stressed that a provision in the bill to defund Planned Parenthood is “a step too far for Republicans”. However, the Congressional Budget Office has calculated that Planned Parenthood could face a total of $3.7bn (£2.1bn) in spending cuts over the next decade as a direct consequence of a Republican healthcare plan.
According to a Congressional score obtained by Politico, if Congress passed its healthcare plan, nearly 14