The House of Representatives has voted more than 30 times to scrap, defund or undercut the law since Obama signed it in March 2010, political moves that went nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Today they do it again for the first time since the Supreme Court ruled on the measure
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Prof. Bruce Bryski, Buffalo State College
Republicans have been talking about the health care measure in two ways: looking at the cuts it would bring to Medicare advantage in an election year, and regularly underlining the Supreme Court ruling that found the individual mandate could stand-- but only as a tax.
“The reality is that as the law stands, Obamacare will cost trillions and will be paid for by billions in tax increases and a $500 billion reduction in funding for Medicare, " says Cong. Tom Reed (R-Corning).
In a series of appearances and interviews this week, the Southern Tier Republican said changes to the Medicare Advantage program will cut $50 million this year, and similar amounts for the next decade." . "I will continue to work to repeal this law. "
When Congress last voted on a repeal measure, neither Republican Bob Turner in New York City, nor Democrat Kathy Hochu of Amherst were members of Congress.
It is not likely to matter, with both pledged to their party postions. Hochul has said while she would like to reform the law's tax on medical devices, she is not in favor of repeal.
" I have always believed, and continue to believe, that the law is far from perfect, and I remain concerned about the high cost of implementing the law. That is why I have worked to roll back many of its most troubling provisions, including the financially unsustainable CLASS Act, the Medical Device tax, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which could result in the rationing of Medicare," Hochul said.)
|The White House has issued a veto threat for a House bill to overturn President Barack Obama's health care law.|
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both are using the Supreme Court decision upholding the federal health care insurance requirement, loved by liberals and hated by conservatives, to rally core supporters in the most competitive states in the presidential race.
Two weeks after the conservative-led court's ruling, the House GOP leadership push for another symbolic repeal vote on Wednesday with the tax argument.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion that the law was constitutional because it imposes a tax - not a penalty - on people who refuse to buy insurance. Republicans who repeatedly pressed for repeal said a "yes" vote would not only overturn the law but spare some 20 million Americans from an unnecessary tax.
The law's onerous burdens and taxes, Republicans complained, were stifling small businesses now reluctant to hire because of the additional expenses. This represented a clear obstacle to the country's economic recovery.
"We are going to continue to stand firm and repeal Obamacare, and move forward to deal with our health care, the ever increasing cost escalation that is going on in the industry"
--Cong. Tom Reed (R-Corning)
"We are going to drag this out for a couple of days cause we don't have much work to do around here. We sure don't want a jobs bill, we are going to avoid that at all costs."
-- Cong. Louise Slaughter. (D-Fairport)
They also pointed out that Obama had promised not to raise taxes on the middle class, and the fee for failing to get insurance would do just that.
"As the Supreme Court ruled, the cornerstone of the Democrats' health care law, the individual mandate, is a massive tax," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., during the daylong debate Tuesday. "This is a major tax with major implications. Democrats have argued that the individual mandate was necessary to improve the nation's health. So what's next? Will they require you to purchase low-fat or low-salt foods or pay a tax because they think it's good for you?"
Democrats countered that the penalty for not buying insurance was directed at people who could afford it.
"Otherwise you're passing the cost on to us," said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. "You're a freeloader. The Republicans are glorifying freeloaders."
Under the law, Americans who don't get qualified health insurance will be required to pay the penalty - or tax - starting for the 2014 tax year, unless they are exempt because of low income, religious beliefs or because they are members of American Indian tribes. The penalty will be fully phased in by 2016, when it will be $695 for each uninsured adult or 2.5 percent of family income, whichever is greater, up to $12,500.Democrats argued that the two days of debate and vote were a waste of time because the Democratic-led Senate wouldn't vote for repeal, the Supreme Court had rendered its judgment and voters want Congress to focus on more pressing issues such as the sluggish economy.
"As a psychiatrist, I'm qualified to say this," McDermott said. "One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The game is over. The referee, John Roberts, blew the whistle. It's over, guys."
Although the outcome isn't in doubt, the vote provides plenty of election-year fodder, energizing the political base and helping to attract campaign dollars. House Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said a number of Democrats would join Republicans in voting to repeal the law.
In fact, many of the Democrats who backed the overhaul lost their seats in the 2010 elections. Those who are left would be open to charges of flip-flopping if they switch their votes.
The health care law was Obama's signature domestic achievement, but it remains unpopular and divisive among the public according to opinion polls. Democrats argued that erasing the law would eliminate the more popular individual elements - a guarantee on coverage for those with pre-existing medical conditions, a requirement allowing children up to age 26 to remain on their parents' coverage and the reduction of seniors' Medicare prescription drug costs by closing the "doughnut hole" coverage gap.
Republicans insisted they were keeping a promise with Americans to repeal the law.
"This law epitomizes Washington at its very worst: intrusive mandates, higher costs, red tape, unaffordable spending, taxes on employers and families and control of personal health care decisions by boards, bureaus and agencies in Washington," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.