The Herald Bulletin

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April 24, 2013

House bill shifts funds in health care law



"We want to stop ObamaCare and that's why we're going to the fund, the slush fund, that Secretary Sebelius is using for the implementation of the bill," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said.

The White House, in its veto threat statement, says the legislation would effectively eliminate funding for three years for a program that "supports critical investments such as tobacco use reduction and programs to reduce health-care-associated infections and the national burden of chronic disease."

Republicans, said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., are raiding the law's preventive health care fund "even though preventive care reduces costs while keeping Americans healthier."

Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, a group that has criticized the Obama administration for using prevention fund dollars to publicize the benefits of the new law, said the prevention account is not being misused as a slush fund as Republicans allege.

"The bulk of the funding in the prevention fund has indeed gone to the original intent of public health and prevention," he said. He said his organization, a nonprofit that focuses on promoting public health strategies to prevent disease, is opposed to the GOP bill, calling it a "foolish trade-off."

Democrats also point out that the Republican bill takes about $800 million more out of the prevention fund than is needed to keep the high-risk insurance plan going. Republicans say that money would go to reducing the deficit. Democrats have suggested sustaining the program through the end of the year through such means as raising tobacco taxes or rolling back oil and gas company tax breaks.

"My bill takes money from a wasteful, duplicative fund, moves it into a program that has bipartisan support and helps pay down the debt," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., said after the measure cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week.

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