By Roxana Tiron and James Rowley on July 11, 2012
Unless Republicans win the presidency and gain the Senate majority next session, their attempts to repeal the law will go no further than the House.
The health-care law ”is making our economy worse,” House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said today before the vote. “Americans want a step-by-step approach that protects the access to care that they need, from the doctor they choose at a lower cost.”
Boehner called today’s House vote another chance for Senate lawmakers “to reconsider” their refusal to pass legislation to rescind the law.
Democrats, who lost control of the House in 2010, provided all of the votes to pass the health-care overhaul. The House Democrats voting today to scrap the law were Dan Boren of Oklahoma; Larry Kissell of North Carolina; Mike McIntyre of North Carolina; Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike Ross of Arkansas.
The U.S. Supreme Court on June 28 upheld the core of the health care law. The justices, voting 5-4, said Congress can require Americans to carry insurance or pay a penalty, which the court said was within lawmakers’ constitutional power to tax.
Democrats, cheering the court’s decision, went on the offensive with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, calling the repeal provision “useless” and a “bill to nowhere.” Pelosi said the law makes health care “a right, not a privilege for a few.”
Michigan Republican Dave Camp criticized the overhaul law, saying “health care premiums are not going down as a result of this law, they are going in the other direction.”
Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said the law contains a “pervasive incentive” for “employers to drop coverage because it’s cheaper to pay the tax” rather than insurance premiums.
Premiums’ CostIn a column in today’s Washington Post, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius disputed Camp’s contention about rising premiums. She also said the share of small businesses offering employee health-care coverage has held steady at 59 percent since the law passed.
“This is another of their message weeks dedicated solely to the politics of their base,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said of the Republican efforts.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, was booed today when he told the national convention of the NAACP in Houston that he would repeal the health-care law.
House Republicans had pledged to “repeal and replace” the health care overhaul. Now, Republican leaders have dropped the word “replace” from their promise.
The omission is the result of an election-year calculation: They figure they stand to gain from public distaste for the 2010 measure’s central provision, the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance, and will lose if they start providing details about what they would do instead.
Status Quo“They don’t care to replace it,” Ross Baker, a professor of American politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview. “They want to revert to the status quo. Whatever plan they have is going to end up alienating somebody, especially during a presidential campaign.”
The House won’t pursue other major health-care legislation before the November election because “the big thing is going to be the election,” Representative Wally Herger, a California Republican who leads the health subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview. “Everybody is looking to the election, everything is second fiddle to November.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; James Rowley in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org