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January 7, 2016

House Sending ACA Repeal Bill to President; Veto Certain

IPI expert referenced: Merrill Matthews | In The News | Media Hit
  A.M. Best

By Frank Klimko

Lawmakers in the U.S. House were ready to pass a bill repealing major provisions of the Affordable Care Act and send it to President Obama, where it will face a certain veto.

House Republican leaders acknowledge they don't have the votes to override the veto, but still say the effort is noteworthy.

"For the first time, we are going to be able to have a bill pass through the Senate and the House, get it on the president's desk, that repeals Obamacare," said Rep. Tom Price a republican from Georgia and the bill's sponsor.

"That fulfills our responsibility to represent our constituents."

The House was preparing to act Jan. 6 after the repeal measure, the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (H.R. 3762), was adopted by the Senate in December. Republican leaders used a parliamentary maneuver to pass the bill while avoiding the threat of a filibuster in the Senate.

"We will put this bill on the president's desk," Price said, "and will let the president then say whether or not he stands with the American people or whether he's getting in the way of positive solutions."

Democrats characterized the measure as political theater.

"This is yet another blatant political move by Republicans to appease their right-wing base," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "We are told by Republicans that they have a better approach to health care. Where is it? Is it hidden in some secret room in the Capitol. Perhaps we should alert the Capitol Police Maybe you should bring a bloodhound to the House floor."

If enacted, H.R. 3762 would end requirements that most people obtain coverage and larger employers offer it. It would also abolish the expansion of Medicaid coverage and the government's subsidies for those who buy policies on the state and federally facilitated health care exchanges. It would end taxes the law imposed to cover its costs and would reduce the deficit by $516 billion over 10 years, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis.

The health care exchanges remain popular and 8.6 million have signed up for coverage during the current enrollment period. The administration set a goal of having 10 million people enrolled and paying for a health plan through the ACA exchanges by the end of 2016 (Best's News Service, Oct. 26, 2015).

The repeated congressional attempts to repeal the ACA reflect the law's unpopularity, said Merrill Matthews, resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas. About 40% approve and 52% disapprove of the ACA, according to a December CBS News poll.

"It's about premiums and high deductibles," Matthews told Best's News Service. "If people had seen premiums going down, you would see widespread support for Obamacare. But, what you do have is something that has created turmoil in the market and a huge amount of frustration with people trying to get affordable coverage."

(By Frank Klimko, Washington correspondent, BestWeek: frank.klimko@ambest.com)


 

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