Submitted on Mon, 2016-01-11
By SMART Health Claims

President Obama vetoed a bill that would have repealed much of the Affordable Care Act, including defunding of the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

In his veto message, President Obama stated that more than 17 million Americans had gained health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that this bill would “reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America.”

The bill, approved by the Senate and sent to the White House, was the first successful attempt to repeal Obamacare, despite 56 previous attempts by the House of Representatives. The action signals an increasingly partisan, contentious legislative environment in advance of the 2016 election. Republicans remain optimistic about a repeal as House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted it is “just a matter of time” before lawmakers repeal and replace Obamacare. “We have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate,” Ryan said after the veto. “So, next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law. Obamacare will be gone.

Passed by the Senate in November with simple majority under the budget reconciliation process, the bill included the following changes to the ACA:

  • A repeal of the ACA’s health insurance exchanges, subsidies, and tax increases as well as an expansion of Medicaid that has been adopted by 30 states.
  • The defunding of the Prevention and Public Health Fund
  • The cancelation of risk-adjustment programs used to reimburse insurance companies that spend more on sick patients than they collect in premiums
  • The elimination of nearly $450 million in federal funds for Planned Parenthood. 

The Decline of America’s First Mandatory Public Health Fund

The Prevention and Public Health Fund is representative of the ongoing trend of declining public health funding in America. It was created as a central funding source for the ACA for public health programs, including clinical and community prevention programs, staffing, infrastructure costs, and research.

Support for the fund was continuously subject to politics, resulting in many reductions. Originally, the fund was approved with $15 billion in funding to public health from 2010 to 2021, and then $2 billion per year after that. In February of 2012, those numbers were revised, and funding was lowered by more than $6 billion from 2013 to 2021 and sequestration has reduced it further.  In addition to reductions, more than $450 million previously committed to local health programs through the Prevention and Public Health Fund was diverted to help with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Movement to Repeal Picks Up Steam

The Senate vote signifies a symbolic victory for Republicans as President Obama's signature law officially reached his desk for veto action. Senate members are speaking out about perceived failures of the Affordable Care Act and the need to shift to a more satisfactory system. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “This is America’s chance to turn the page and write a new and more hopeful beginning. This is our chance to work toward a healthier and more prosperous future with true reform that moves beyond the failures of a broken law.”

Repeal of funding-related aspects of the ACA is the declared goal of all Republican presidential candidates and discourse around the topic is certain to amplify as the 2016 election approaches.

"Obamacare is an expensive disaster that’s leaving consumers with fewer choices and higher costs, while trying to force taxpayers to bail out health insurance companies that aren’t realizing the profits they were once promised by the Obama administration. By working with other conservatives, we’re putting an Obamacare repeal and replace bill on President Obama’s desk that goes as far as possible in getting rid of this disastrous law, and that is why I supported it."

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Raise Your Voice

In this crucial election year, we can make a difference by raising our voices and sharing the impact that ACA public health funding can have on our communities. Reach out to your representatives and advocate for funding tied to the Affordable Care Act. While the Prevention and Public Health Fund is only one source of public health funding, it is the nation’s largest source of dedicated prevention funding and needs your support.



For a refresher on the journey of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, revisit our coverage here:

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