As expected and after two days of debate, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved by a vote of 245-189 the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act (H.R. 2), legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. Although the vote was largely along party lines, Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK), Mike McIntyre (D-NC) and Mike Ross (D-AR) broke rank and voted in favor of the bill. Despite its passage, the repeal legislation has little to no chance of becoming law this session. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he has no plans to consider the bill in that chamber – which still enjoys a slim Democratic majority – and President Obama has stated that he would veto any efforts to repeal the health care law. Wednesday’s House vote, therefore, was largely symbolic and likely a means to gain momentum for more piecemeal reform.
Lawmakers have already introduced a number of bills designed to chip away at the health care law and choke off its funding supply. The most recent bill (H.R. 299) introduced on Tuesday by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) would repeal the Affordable Care Act along with the 7.5 percent threshold on the deduction for medical expenses, provide for increased funding for high-risk pools, allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines, and allow individuals and businesses to form associations to purchase health insurance plans. More such alternative health care bills are expected, especially after the consideration of H. Res. 9, which would direct four congressional committees to develop alternative health care measures. Among other things, the resolution – which is scheduled for consideration as early as Thursday – seeks proposals to lower health care premiums through increased competition and choice; preserve a patient’s ability to keep his or her health plan if he or she likes it; provide access to affordable health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions; and reform the medical liability system to reduce unnecessary and wasteful health care spending.
Perhaps sensing that some of these bills may gain traction, President Obama has stated that he is “willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act,” but cautioned that “we can’t go backward.” Meanwhile, on the eve of the repeal vote, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report claiming that 50 to 129 million (19 to 50 percent) of Americans under age 65 have some type of pre-existing condition, and could therefore be denied health coverage without the Affordable Care Act in place.
UPDATE: The House approved H. Res. 9 on January 20, 2011 by a vote of 253-175.
This entry was written by Ilyse Schuman.