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Budget Deal Targets Pieces of Health Care Law

Obama Spending Showdo_Hers(2)

April 8, 2011: President Obama poses for photographers in the Blue Room at the White House in Washington after he spoke regarding the budget and averted government shutdown after a deal was made between Republican and Democrat lawmakers. (AP)

The budget deal reached Friday would affect two initiatives contained in last year's health-care law that were bitterly opposed by businesses, killing one outright and slashing funding for the other. 

The agreement would eliminate a provision of the health-care law enabling low-income workers to opt out of employer-offered health insurance and shop for more affordable coverage on insurance exchanges to be created in 2014, according to congressional aides and business groups. 

Under the provision, employers would have had to help pay for the insurance purchased on the exchange. Ending the program would save the government $4 billion over 10 years, but it wouldn't result in any immediate spending cuts because it isn't set to begin for three years. 

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden sponsored the provision, calling it "Free Choice." A spokesman for Mr. Wyden, Jennifer Hoelzer, said Saturday that "both parties claim to support choice and competition in health care, but their closed-door decision to kill off Free Choice makes it pretty clear that their real goal is to keep health care in the hands of special interests." 

Spokespeople for the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers, organizations that opposed the measure, couldn't be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also opposed the measure, declined to comment. 

The budget bill will also cut $2.2 billion in funding from a program that would encourage the development of health-care cooperatives-not-for-profit entities that would compete with private, for-profit health-insurance companies. 

Click here to continue reading at The Wall Street Journal.