US Congress approves first step for repealing Obamacare (Update)

January 13, 2017

The US House of Representatives on Friday joined the Senate in passing a critical measure that marks the first major step toward repealing outgoing President Barack Obama's landmark but controversial health care reforms.

The House's near party-line vote of 227 to 198 approved a budget blueprint which provides Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, with a framework for dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

But one week before Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office, a sense of urgency has swept over Washington about what his party will put forward as a replacement for the law, with Democrats warning of disastrous consequences should Republicans act too hastily.

"This resolution essentially fires the starting pistol... for repealing Obamacare," said Representative Bill Johnson, an Ohio Republican.

"This is a critical first step to deliver relief to Americans struggling under this law," House Speaker Paul Ryan told fellow members, describing as a "rescue mission" the latest effort to unwind Obamacare.

"This experiment has failed," and "we have to step in before things get worse."

The Senate passed the resolution Thursday. It received no Democratic support in either chamber, highlighting the intensely partisan fight that lies ahead.

The resolution provides Republicans with a powerful tool, called reconciliation, which allows repeal legislation to proceed through the 100-member Senate with a simple majority, protected from a Democratic filibuster that requires a 60-vote threshold to overcome.

Trump made repeal of the law a central plank of his insurgent campaign, and he sounded triumphant ahead of the vote.

"The 'Unaffordable' Care Act will soon be history!" he tweeted early Friday.

Days earlier he said the Republicans ought to repeal and replace Obamacare quickly and "simultaneously."

During a Thursday town hall style event Ryan said he was on board, and that he envisioned action on a plan "within the first hundred days."

'Cut' and run?

Unwinding Obamacare will be a monumental task. Republican leadership is moving carefully, stressing it does not want to "pull the rug out from anyone" who might lose coverage if there is no replacement plan on offer.

But there is debate among Republicans about how—and how fast—to proceed.

Charlie Dent, one of nine House Republicans who voted against the resolution, expressed "reservations" about quickly repealing parts of Obamacare without a credible replacement at the ready.

"I think the repeal plan needs to be fully developed and better articulated prior to moving forward," he told CNN.

The White House touts Obamacare as a success, saying more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance through the law.

The Affordable Care Act forbids insurance companies from denying health care due to pre-existing conditions, abolishes lifetime caps on care, and allows children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26, three provisions that have proved popular nationwide.

Ryan insists the Republican plan that moves forward will include its own versions of such provisions.

Democrats warn that scrapping the law could result in tens of millions of Americans losing coverage.

"They want to cut benefits and run. They want to cut access and run," House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said of Republicans, and accused Ryan of peddling "mythology" about the law.

House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries offered harsher criticism about Republican efforts to swiftly dismantle the reforms, despite not formulating a viable replacement plan in the last six years.

"All you have is smoke and mirrors, and the American people are getting ready to get screwed," Jeffries said on the House floor.

Explore further: US Senate takes first step toward unraveling Obamacare

Related Stories

US Senate takes first step toward unraveling Obamacare

January 12, 2017
The Republican-led US Senate held a procedural vote early Thursday which set in motion the eventual rollback of The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform bill.

Congress to complete first step to repealing health law

January 13, 2017
The House is poised to back legislation that is the first—and by far the easiest—step toward gutting President Barack Obama's divisive health care law.

Obama, Team Trump in health care showdown

January 4, 2017
US President Barack Obama called on congressional Democrats Wednesday to "fight" to preserve his signature health care reform, with its future in doubt as Donald Trump's incoming administration vowed a swift repeal of the ...

Obama moves to stop Trump gutting signature healthcare law

January 4, 2017
US President Barack Obama will make a short but politically charged trip from the White House to Capitol Hill Wednesday, calling allied lawmakers to arms in defense of his signature healthcare reforms.

Obama dismissive as US House votes to repeal 'Obamacare'

February 4, 2015
US House Republicans took the increasingly routine step Tuesday of voting to repeal "Obamacare," a seemingly doomed effort that President Barack Obama ridiculed as making "absolutely no sense."

Senate GOP setting up 'Obamacare' vote on highway bill

July 24, 2015
Senate Republican leaders announced plans Friday to use a must-pass highway bill to try to overturn President Barack Obama's health care law, in the latest GOP assault on "Obamacare."

Recommended for you

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.