The Oklahoman: U.S. House votes to repeal health care law

Jan 20, 2011
In The News

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted Wednesday to repeal the health care law passed last year, as the new Republican majority fulfilled an election-year pledge and some Democrats derided the effort as political theater.

“Repeal means keeping a promise,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“This is what we said we would do … And when you look at the facts and you listen to the people, this is a promise worth keeping.”

The vote to repeal the entire law was 245 to 189; all five House members from Oklahoma, who said their constituents overwhelmingly oppose the law, voted for the repeal.

Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, one of only three Democrats voting to repeal the law, said he supported some of its provisions.

“However, when taken as a whole, the health care legislation adds far too many taxes, mandates and regulations that burden Oklahoma families and prevent our nation’s job creators from producing the kind of economic growth that is sorely needed,” Boren said.

The Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats, is highly unlikely to take up the repeal effort, and President Barack Obama strongly supports the law, though he said this week that he was willing to work with congressional leaders to improve it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday, “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.

“This is nothing more than partisan grandstanding at a time when we should be working together to create jobs and strengthen the middle class.”

Throughout the debate, Democrats cited examples of people who would be helped by the law’s protections, such as the prohibition on lifetime dollar caps on policies, the requirement that children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and the access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

“My Republican colleagues have put their tea party base above everything else, including the health care needs of the American people,” said Rep. David Price, D-N.C. “We must recognize their cynical political gesture for what it is.”

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, who presided over the House during part of the debate Wednesday, said, “By having a straight up-or-down vote on repealing Obamacare, we have kept our promise to the American people and our commitment to real health reform.

“It is time to sit down and start over with reforms that don’t scare employers from hiring, reforms that allow the American people to have a choice in their health care and save rather than cost the people of Oklahoma money.”

Recent polls have shown less public opposition to the law than when it was enacted last spring, but it is still far from popular. Perhaps the most controversial provision — the requirement beginning in 2014 that individuals purchase health care coverage — could ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republicans are planning to pass legislation today that directs House committees to develop proposals for health care reform.

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