Congress Sends ACA Repeal to President, Who Promises Veto

Marcia Frellick

January 06, 2016

With the US House of Representatives' 240-181 vote Wednesday evening, Congress for the first time sent President Barack Obama a bill to scrap the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a bill the president has promised to veto.

The House and Senate have voted more than 60 times to either fully or partially repeal the ACA, but this is the first bill, approved largely along party lines, to land on the president's desk.

The GOP legislation essentially guts the Act originally passed in 2010. It calls for preventing the federal government from running healthcare exchanges, eliminates insurance mandates and subsidies, and repeals Medicaid expansion now adopted in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

The bill also would eliminate for 1 year taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood, an effort that stalled late last year when the GOP was unable to tack the measure onto the spending bill approved shortly before the holidays. The money would instead go toward community health centers, Republicans have said.

Battle on the House Floor

Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said, "This legislation seeks to protect folks…all across the country from the rising costs, fewer choices, lost coverage and countless broken promises that define the president's healthcare law."

Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) says she is looking for a new tune from Republicans, instead of "Auld Lang Syne." "Is it for auld lang syne that 22 million Americans might actually lose their health insurance if the president would somehow sign this into law? Is it for auld lang syne that the Republicans and you, Mr. Speaker, are proposing that we…take away the primary care physician for poor women — 4 out of 10 who say it's their only source of healthcare?"

The Senate already passed its version of the bill called Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act on a 52-47 vote along party lines in December, using a process called budget reconciliation that prevented a filibuster by Senate Democrats, as previously reported in Medscape Medical News. Under the process, a party that controls both chambers can pass legislation with a simple majority.

New Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has made repealing the ACA, or Obamacare, a top priority since he took office at the end of October. He has vowed to unveil an alternative to the Act at the end of this year.

Ryan tweeted Wednesday under his hashtag #OnHisDesk: "Later today, the House will vote on a bill that cuts the federal deficit by a half trillion dollars over the next decade by repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood. As the president prepares to defend this disaster of a law at his final State of the Union address next week, we're going to fulfil our commitment to put conservative priorities like this #OnHisDesk."

President Obama has 10 days (excluding Sunday) to veto the bill.


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