Congressional legislators challenging the White House budget are making the health care law a major point of contention.

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Calls arise to defund health law

September 9th, 2013

WASHINGTON – Congressional legislators challenging the White House budget are making the health care law a major point of contention.

Some Republicans have vowed to force a government shutdown unless funding for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is stripped from the spending plan.

“It isn’t working,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said of the law. “It’s hurting health care, and now is the opportunity to do it if the American people rise up and hold our elected officials ­accountable.”

Joining him in the defunding effort is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Both are regarded as GOP presidential prospects.

The ACA will do “irreparable damage to our economy and to our country,” said Rubio. “I don’t think you can say you’re against Obamacare if you vote for a budget that funds it.”

For his part, President Obama said, “We’ve seen a faction of Republicans in Congress suggest that maybe America shouldn’t pay its bills that have already been run up, that we shut down government if they can’t shut down Obamacare. That won’t grow our economy. That won’t create jobs. That won’t help our middle class. We can’t afford in Washington the usual circus of distractions and political posturing.”

A number of senior Republicans in both the House and Senate also oppose the defunding effort and the issue has become a matter of debate within the party. House Speaker John Boehner has been neutral. “I am confident that when we get into the fall we will find that it may be a messy process, but I suspect we will find a way to get there,” he said of the budget’s passage.

Meanwhile a new study found that when the health insurance exchanges open next month, Americans will be hard pressed to select the best coverage for their needs, unless relatively simple design features are incorporated into the state and federal websites. But smart design of the websites could save consumers and the government more than $9 billion annually, the study reported.

Titled, “Can Consumers Make Affordable Care Affordable? The Value of Choice Architecture,” the report was coauthored by University of Pennsylvania Law School professor and health insurance expert Tom Baker and colleagues at Columbia University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Miami.

They cautioned that the new exchanges may not be designed in ways that provide consumers with the guidance they need to select the most cost-effective policies.

“While the success of the health exchanges will depend, in part, on the provision of cost-efficient products [by insurance companies], it also will depend, to some extent, on the design of exchanges that will allow consumers to identify them and to choose plans that are a good fit to their needs,” the study authors wrote.

Baker commented, “Some states are trying very hard to use good choice architecture, but others are overwhelmed. I have high hope for the federal Web portal because we have been providing our research results to the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], and we get the sense that they understand the essential message. My prediction is that it will take a couple of years to learn what works.”