Spotlight on Health Care Reform - House Votes To Repeal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Spotlight on Health Care Reform - House Votes To Repeal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted Jan. 19 245-189 to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Debate on H.R. 2 -- "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Act" -- began Tuesday.  The evening vote passed mostly along party lines, with only three Democrats voting to repeal the act.  Democrats voting to repeal the PPACA were Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Mike Ross of Arkansas.

The PPACA, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, was signed into law on March 23.  One of the main requirements of the act is that most Americans without insurance obtain coverage or face a penalty.  Other provisions will stop insurance companies from dropping or denying care to people with pre-existing conditions and expand the federal-state Medicaid insurance program for the poor to cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level and to cover childless adults for the first time, starting in 2014.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said repeal of the PPACA was the first priority of the new Republican majority in the house.  Cantor spoke on the House floor Wednesday, saying both parties care about health care, but Republicans disagree that "excessive government regulation and sweeping mandates on individuals and business are the right way to go about affecting the reforms Americans want."

The repeal is largely symbolic because it will likely fail in the Senate, which Democrats still control.  The president also has veto power.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has said he will not bring the legislation to the floor for a vote and after the House vote released a statement saying that "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.  As if that isn't bad enough, Republicans' plan would also add more than $1 trillion to the deficit.  This is nothing more than partisan grandstanding at a time when we should be working together to create jobs and strengthen the middle class."

However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said the Senate would hold a vote.  

"We should repeal this law and focus on common sense steps that actually lower costs and encourage private sector job creation," McConnell said in a release issued following the vote.

McConnell called the PPACA a "monstrosity" and congratulated the House for voting to scrap the law "before it does any more damage to our economy or to the care that patients receive."

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the Feb. 2 issue of Mealey's Managed Care Liability Report.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.

For more information, e-mail editor Cheryl Keely at cheryl.keely@lexisnexis.com.