WASHINGTON, D.C. – The future of Planned Parenthood has grown increasingly uncertain as Republicans intensify efforts to eliminate it along with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The fate of the two have become deeply tied together. However, the Republicans’ congressional majority is not in total agreement about the fate of either, according to North Carolina Congressmen David Rouzer and Walter B. Jones.
Congressman Rouzer told Port City Daily he has co-sponsored Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe’s bill, which came out of the Republican Study Committee.
“This bill will repeal the ACA in its entirety,” Rouzer said. “It will also help level the playing field by offering some market-based solutions to the failures of Obamacare.”
Rouzer said Roe’s bill would also help stabilize costs by offering tax-deductions, allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines and allowing groups to buy insurance in bulk. The bill would also address medical malpractice reform.
Rouzer said the bill would hold insurance companies more accountable, ending exemptions from anti-trust regulations now given to insurance companies.
“They’ve essentially been allowed to arrange prices with each other, through legal loopholes, forming a kind of collusion,” Rouzer said.
One thing the bill would not do is restrict funding to Planned Parenthood beyond current levels, he said.
Roe’s bill reiterates the basic language of the so-called Hyde Amendment, an attachment to the federal budget that first passed in the 1970s and which reappears periodically, depending on party control in Washington. The amendment blocks federal funding that goes specifically to providing abortions.
Neither the Hyde Amendment nor Roe’s bill mention Planned Parenthood.
“In terms of Planned Parenthood, there’s language in the bill that prevents taxpayers from having their money go to abortions,” Rouzer said. “There are some people that are in favor of abortions, and some people that are strongly against them. But in terms of other medical care, this bill doesn’t touch that.”
Rouzer acknowledged that some women with pro-life beliefs may still want to get medical services at Planned Parenthood.
“I think this bill is philosophically aligned with someone like that,” Rouzer said.
Rouzer said this bill was not affiliated with House Speak Paul Ryan’s vow to completely defund Planned Parenthood. Both Ryan and President Trump have repeatedly called to defund the group; Trump signed an executive order on Monday, Jan 23, to block $100 million of federal funding from Planned Parenhood’s international operations.
In a press statement, Rouzer praised Trump’s international efforts, saying the President had “affirmed his commitment to the unborn by prohibiting non-government organizations that receive taxpayer funds from performing or actively promoting abortions.”
Rouzer did not comment on Trump’s campaign promises to defund the group domestically.
Congressman Jones represents a different Republican outlook. Jones strongly believes funding Planned Parenthood is tantamount to funding abortion, regardless of the Hyde Amendment or other legislation.
Jones voted for the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, a bill that would have removed all funding for the program unless it completely divested itself from all abortion services.
In spite of his voting record, and his professed view that the ACA is “a hot mess, a real train wreck,” Jones was one of nine Republicans who voted against last week’s budget resolution. He said he could not support the vehicle to dismantle the ACA and would have reservations about future bills completing the repeal.
“This particular measure would add $9.1 billion to our national debt over 10 years,” Jones said. “The thing is, this budget had many more parts than just defunding the ACA. Very few things get to floor alone, in my experience.“
Jones objected to the efforts to repeal the ACA before a replacement was in order.
“There needs to be a replacement, we have to simultaneously – or as close to simultaneously as possible – repeal and replace,” he said. “For me, they will have to have a replacement bill before I could vote. Otherwise you’re asking for chaos. It would have to, at the very least, be a serious outline and some major details.”
Jones said that several potential alternatives to the ACA have been put forward, including the one authored by Roe and co-sponsored by Rouzer. Another was authored by Tim Price, Trump’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. However, Jones was quick to point out that no alternative has been agreed on.
“If there is one, I haven’t seen it,” said Jones. “I don’t think anyone has seen it”
Jones said the president’s campaign promises to repeal and replace ACA has put enormous pressure on the Congress.
“The committees of jurisdiction are under the gun, that’s for sure. But, you can’t fix this thing overnight,” he said.
“There are aspects, according to President Trump, there are some aspects of the ACA, that if you tweak them they may work. And there are some we will get rid of.”
Both Jones and Rouzer admitted that the President’s campaign time-table of “immediate repeal and replace” will have to face up to legislative and logistical realities.
“He is beginning to feel the reality sink in,” Jones said. “I’m sure he’s feeling like, ‘I got it, I’m in, but I never thought it would be this complicated.’”
Rouzer said the president still intends to sign a bill replacing the ACA as soon as possible, but that the entire process outlined by the bill he’s cosponsored envisions a “smooth transition.”
“We’ll see different parts of the ACA expire and be replaced over the next two years,” Rouzer said. “If we sign the bill on June 21, 2017, you aren’t going to lose your insurance or your healthcare on June 22. It’s important for people to know that.”
The Wilmington Planned Parenthood office referred all questions to the organization’s the South Atlantic Division, which also declined to answer questions. The national office did not immediately respond.