House Bans State Access to Health Exchange Grant Money

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to ban federal grant money meant to help states set up health exchanges. The 238-183 vote, which was primarily along party lines and strongly objected by President Barack Obama, was a part of Republicans’ continued push to dismantle health care reform.

Republicans Oppose Funding for Health Exchanges

When Obama signed the health care reform bill into law in March 2010, one of the changes that occurred in the world of health insurance was the creation of the health exchange, which would be a place where individuals could go to compare various policy options and select the one that was best for them.

The exchanges were created to lower insurance costs for those who don’t have coverage available to them via an employer or are self-employed by offering them access to rates found in group coverage that companies already have available to them.

Lawmakers in favor of the exchanges hoped they could help Americans meet the requirement of mandatory coverage by making insurance affordable. However, these exchanges required funding from the government to operate and Republicans oppose providing this funding because it would cost more than $14 billion over the next 10 years.

Ban Not Likely to Clear Congress

Democrats have been vocal about their displeasure with the House vote to ban funding for health insurance exchanges, which they say could affect more than 500,000 Americans.

However, they note the Democrat-run Senate will never approve the bill and Obama will never sign it. They say the initiative has been a waste of time and a distraction from other important matters.

Another vote on table in the House of Representatives is legislation to block federal funding for the construction of healthcare centers in schools. The centers, which are expected to improve child access to primary care, would cost around $100 million from 2012 to 2021.

The legislative vote is set for Wednesday, and if passed, would work toward banning another piece of health care reform. This, like the vote on exchanges, is not expected to clear the Senate.