WASHINGTON -- Few members of Congress want to repeal Obamacare more than Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who has considered introducing a bill to repeal everything President Barack Obama has signed into law. But there is a part of the Affordable Care Act that he does support: closing the "doughnut hole" in Medicare Part D.
Medicare Part D, which provides prescription drug coverage for seniors, was put into place by former President George W. Bush. The law, however, had a coverage gap: Once beneficiaries and their plans had paid a certain amount ($2,930 in 2012), the individual would be responsible for shouldering a heavier burden of the cost of their drugs. Once the cost of those drugs added up to $4,700, Medicare Part D coverage would kick in again.
The Affordable Care Act would gradually increase coverage within the doughnut hole, so that it's actually closed by 2020. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, seniors who fell into the doughnut hole saved an average of $641 in the first eight months of 2012.
King is a strong supporter of Medicare Part D and wants the doughnut hole to disappear. "It will haunt us until it's filled," he recently told The Messenger in Iowa.
But in 2011, King dismissed the importance of closing the doughnut hole in an interview with ThinkProgress. "I can’t imagine there being any seniors who have seen any benefits of Obamacare," he said, adding that filling the doughnut hole was "such a minor part of this whole picture."
"I’ve had no constituents come to me and say, 'It’s so good that the doughnut hole is closed,'" he added. "I haven’t heard that subject even brought up in six months. That is a talking point for the Obama administration, but it isn’t a significant piece of policy."
In June, he told reporters that not a single provision in the health care reform law should be left intact. "I don’t want to hear any talk from Republicans about preserving any aspect of it," he said. "It just dilutes the argument. It’s all or none."
And in July, he stressed to CBS News that he has been against the mantra of "repeal and replace" -- repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a GOP health care plan.
Essentially, King believes that the law should be struck down, then Congress should debate and vote upon each provision individually -- even ones that are already law and could be kept in place.
The congressman's office did not return a request for comment.
Other Republicans, who, like King, also want to see Obamacare fully repealed, have found provisions they support. Many members want to keep in place the ban on preexisting conditions and allow adult children to stay on their parents' health care plans until the age of 26.
The problem, however, with keeping the popular provisions -- especially the ban on preexisting conditions -- in place a la carte and repealing the most unpopular one -- the individual mandate that requires Americans to buy insurance -- is that health care companies are unlikely to go along with such a plan that requires them to shell out significantly more money without getting a larger pool of customers.
King is running in Iowa's new 4th Congressional District against Democrat Christie Vilsack. King, who is popular with the Tea Party, is leading Vilsack by single-digit percentage points in recent polls.
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