This was a vote on a motion to recommit that would have barred health insurance companies from participating in state-based health insurance “exchanges” (regulated marketplaces in which the uninsured could purchase subsidized health insurance) if they denied coverage to individuals with cancer or any other pre-existing medical condition. 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 The underlying bill rescinded federal funding for those state-based exchanges.
Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) urged support for this motion to recommit: “This recommit motion holds special meaning for me because I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer that was most likely caused by my service in the Vietnam War and exposure to Agent Orange. Fortunately, as a career soldier, I had access to affordable, quality public health insurance to help me beat that nasty disease. Many other Americans are not so lucky….I would submit that probably every one of us in this Chamber have received calls from some of our constituents who have been paying for insurance for years and years, they got a malady, they got cancer, they're in the hospital, they're getting treatment, insurance comes due and they can't renew it because they've got a preexisting condition. That's got to stop. Health insurance exchanges will be a one-stop shop for tens of millions of Americans who purchase individual policies. This market must be open only to the companies that provide affordable insurance to all Americans, young, old, sick and well, male and female. My recommit motion, this final amendment, would require just that. Our role as a government is to protect the well-being of our citizens, not the bottom line of insurance companies, which are doing just fine by the way.”
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) opposed the motion to recommit: “…[The bill] that we've had under discussion all day does nothing about preexisting conditions; therefore, this motion to recommit is irrelevant and unnecessary. Members were brought here to get runaway spending under control. Rather than help us avoid a fiscal crisis, House Democrats have brought forward a motion to recommit that is irrelevant to the points that have been made on the floor of this House today. As has been pointed out…the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [the 2010 health care reform bill] gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services an unlimited appropriation to facilitate enrollment in State health exchanges. We simply do not know how the Secretary of Health and Human Services will spend these dollars….Given the huge uncertainty regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, two Federal District Courts have struck down the law. State attorney generals have asked for an expedited review of the litigation, but the Obama administration has refused to allow that to happen. In the interim, repealing this fund is the best thing we can do to protect taxpayer resources at a time of record red ink.”
The House rejected this motion to recommit by a vote of 190-233. Voting “yea” were 189 Democrats and 1 Republican. 232 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected a motion to recommit that would have barred health insurance companies from participating in state-based health insurance “exchanges” if they denied coverage to individuals with cancer or any other pre-existing medical condition.