House Advances Housekeeping Health Bill

VPR Staff

Lawmakers face a long list of bills that are ready for debate by the full House and Senate. That’s because a key deadline passed last week that required committees to complete work on bills that they want to be addressed this year.

And that’s how the House found itself tied up on the floor this afternoon. A “housekeeping bill” that’s designed to make technical changes to the health care exchanges that will launch next year has become a forum for a much larger debate.

On a voice vote, the House advanced a bill that would repeal the state’s existing health insurance programs, including Catamount Health. The bill’s lead sponsor Rep. Mike Fisher, D-Lincoln, said the measure would update state law so it conforms to the federal Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.

“I really think that this bill is more of a technical corrections to conform with federal law,”  said Fisher, fending off criticism that the new health care exchange won’t control costs.

But Republicans repeatedly pressed Fisher and other majority Democrats for more information on how beneficiaries will be helped. Democrats said that’s a question for later, when the House debates the full budget.

Read the bill here.