Politics

Spending deal dismantles two more Obamacare programs

The fine print of a spending deal struck by Republican and Democratic leaders late Friday to avert government shutdown shows the final bill will dismantle two key parts of Obamacare.

“The bill terminates two programs funded in ObamaCare (the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) and the Free Choice Voucher programs,” a summary released around 2:00 AM Tuesday by the House appropriations committee says.

Critics have blasted the CO-OP program as a “stealth public option,” the government insurance plan pushed by liberal Democrats during the consideration of Obamacare.

The modest victory for Republicans in dismantling the two programs is quite limited compared to the vast measures included in a House-passed funding bill, H.R. 1, but the program eliminations comprise the second time Congress has dismantled parts of the president’s health care law in recent weeks.

The legislation also compels a series of studies by the Government Accountability Office on Obamacare. One is an audit of the waivers from the law provided to many companies and unions, due in 60 days.

Also included in the deal are the elimination of four of President Obama’s policy “czars” – top officials not subject to Senate confirmation with murky, wide-ranging powers over White House policy and federal agencies.

The four eliminated are the “Health Care Czar,” the “Climate Change Czar,” the “Car Czar,” and the “Urban Affairs Czar.”

One change in the fine print likely to prove controversial is a provision reinstating a decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolves from a list of endangered species in certain states.

Of federal agencies driving strict new regulation in the Obama era, the Environmental Protection Agency took a (relatively) big hit in its funding, surrendering a $1.6 billion cut, or 16 percent of its budget.

Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration escaped unscathed, maintaining its funding level from last year. That agency enforces regulations on workplaces.

Congress reduced its own funding and the appropriations committees took an extra large cut of 9 percent, the summary says.

The summary also says “This legislation eliminates all Defense earmark account funding, a cut of $4.2 billion from last year’s level.”

97 times in the bill text a given program is funded at $0.

Since the legislation was posted online on Tuesday, GOP sources expect a vote to occur Thursday to fit the letter of the Republicans’ “72 hour” pledge.