House Republicans Pledge to ‘Repeal and Replace’ Obamacare

By Terence P. Jeffrey | September 23, 2010 | 10:55 AM EDT

House Minority Leader John Boehner appears with a copy of the Democrats’ version of the health care bill during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

( - In a 21-page “Pledge to America” formally unveiled to the public at a family-owned lumber company in Virginia on Thursday,  the Republicans in the House of Representatives are pledging to “repeal and replace” Obamacare should their party gain control of the U.S. Congress.

“We offer a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care with common-sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs,” says the GOP document.

The plan does offer some of the alternative ideas the House Republicans would like to advance in the realm of federal regulation of health care, but it does not specifically spell out what the Republicans believe are the limits on federal regulation of health care.

“We will enact real medical liability reform; allow Americans to purchase health coverage across state lines; empower small businesses with greater purchasing power; and create new incentives to save for future health needs,” says the Republican pledge. “We will protect the doctor-patient relationship, and ensure that those with pre-existing conditions gain access to the coverage they need. We will permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment.”

The pledge does not say the Republicans will repeal Obamacare because it is unconstitutional. It says: “Because the new health care law kills jobs, raises taxes, and increases the cost of health care, we will immediately take action to repeal this law."

The Republicans intend to help states maintain subsidized insurance pools for high-risk insurees and mandate that health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions while prohibiting health insurance companies from imposing annual or lifetime caps on how much they will pay out in benefits to people they insure.

“Health care should be accessible for all, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses,” says the Republican pledge. “We will expand state high-risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage. We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps, and prevent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick. We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.”

The Republican pledge cites the “individual mandate” in Obamacare as a violation of President Barack Obama’s promise not to raise taxes on people earning under $250,000 per year, but does not cite the individual mandate as a violation of the constitutional limits on federal power. Numerous states have joined with Florida in suing the government in federal court claiming that the Constitution does not give the federal government the authority to force individuals to buy health insurance.

“The new health care law includes at least a dozen violations of President Obama’s pledge not to raise taxes on middle-class families,” says the Republican document. “The Obama administration has conceded that the ‘individual mandate’ at the heart of the new law is indeed a tax, a notion the president 'absolutely' rejected last fall.”

At the same time, the Republicans do pledge to require that all laws moving through Congress cite the specific clause in the Constitution that justifies the federal government taking the action the law envisions.

“For too long, Congress has ignored the proper limits imposed by the Constitution on the federal government,” says the Republican pledge. “Further, it has too often drafted unclear and muddled laws, leaving to an unelected judiciary the power to interpret what the law means and by what authority the law stands. This lack of respect for the clear Constitutional limits and authorities has allowed Congress to create ineffective and costly programs that add to the massive deficit year after year. We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.”