Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Holding hearings to find out what is in the bill

Since the Democrats crammed through the health care bill without full hearings on the effects of their proposals or exploring other approaches to providing health care, the GOP is planning to have post-bill-signing hearings to what the Congress should have done before passing such a mammoth bill.
Properly speaking, of course, the people's representatives are supposed to hold hearings before they pass legislation. Plainly Americans have issues with much of the new health-care law. Its unpopularity, however, owes just as much to the way it was rammed through—with little real debate and even less in the way of real information about consequences.

In the latter part of the Bush years, Democrats used hearings to go after people in the West Wing. If Mr. Boehner can keep Republicans from indulging in "gotcha"—and instead focus on the actual legislation—we'll learn a great many useful things.

Let's start with pre-existing conditions. Perhaps the central promise of ObamaCare is that by getting tough on insurers, more Americans with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes would get coverage. But now it's being reported that the new requirements are leading companies that provide child-only policies to drop out of the business altogether.

During his 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain proposed expanding federal support for people in high-risk state insurance pools. These pools would subsidize those who have medical conditions that make it harder for them to get coverage. It's not the only answer. But hearings would help Republicans show that there are ways to handle tough challenges such as pre-existing conditions that cost less and do not require imposing more mandates on the insurance industry.

The same goes for ObamaCare's infamous 1099 provision. Under the new health law, companies have to issue a Form 1099 whenever they do more than $600 worth of business with someone in any given year. The purpose was to help the IRS scare up more revenue. Republicans might use hearings to focus on the added costs to small business, as well as the larger issue of involving the IRS in the health care of American citizens.
This is a much better approach for the Republicans to take than holding a lot of gotcha hearings on the Obama administration. The real business before the Republicans if they are the leaders in the House is to explore the bill that is on the books and the portions that can not be and should not be funded. Letting the American people know exactly what is in the bill and why it is bad for the country would be a good start. They can't repeal the whole thing while Obama is in office, but they can set the climate for a future Republican president to repeal it.