The Republican-controlled House voted Wednesday evening to repeal President Obama’s landmark health care reform law, but the measure is not expected to come to a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Three Democrats (Mike Ross of Arkansas, Dan Boren of Oklahoma and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina) crossed party lines to join Republicans in voting 245-189 to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which contains a number of tax-related provisions, including tax credits to help small businesses and individuals pay for health coverage. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed not to bring the repeal legislation to the Senate floor, and it would face a certain presidential veto even if the Senate did vote to repeal the health care reform law.
The House vote was largely symbolic, but Republican congressional leaders have promised to continue with the “repeal-and-replace” strategy they promised in their campaign pledge before last November’s midterm elections. They have also threatened to block funding this term for key parts of the health care reform law, much of which has not yet taken effect. “Both sides of the aisle have very different viewpoints on what government’s role in this health care issue should be, and if there’s one thing we can agree on is that this health care law needs improvement,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during the debate Wednesday. “The President said so, inasmuch, yesterday.”
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers attempted last year to pass a repeal of the expanded 1099 information reporting provisions in the law, which would require businesses to start reporting to the IRS any purchases of goods and services of more than $600 from other businesses and individuals in a calendar year. That provision is set to take effect for most types of businesses in 2013 for purchases made in 2012, but both parties are expected to agree on a way to repeal the 1099 provision before it actually takes effect. President Obama has also indicated a willingness to change that provision.
However, Democrats argued during the debate over the wider repeal of the overall health care reform law that doing so would deny coverage to up to 32 million Americans who were expected to benefit from the law, and cited new figures from the Congressional Budget Office estimating that a repeal would add $230 billion to the budget deficit. They also pointed to other provisions of the law, such as the closing of the so-called donut hole in prescription coverage for senior citizens, a ban on insurance companies denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and the ability of parents to keep adult children on their health insurance plans until the age of 26.
“Republicans are voting to take tax breaks away from small businesses, raise prescription drug prices for seniors and let insurance companies go back to denying coverage to sick children,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., in a statement. “As if that wasn’t bad enough, Republicans’ plan would also add more than $1 trillion to the deficit. This is nothing more than partisan grandstanding at a time when we should be working together to create jobs and strengthen the middle class.”
However, Republican lawmakers dispute the recent CBO numbers and contend that the health care reform bill would add to the deficit by vastly increasing Medicaid funding and subtract jobs from companies forced to add coverage for their employees.
Despite the dim prospects for the Republicans managing to repeal health care reform in the Senate until after the 2012 election, GOP lawmakers have said they would unveil their own version of health care reform legislation later this year.
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