Congress Votes to Gut Affordable Care Act –– Again

Measure heads for certain veto

The Congress has passed legislation dismantling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), President Obama’s signature health care plan, putting on his desk an election-year measure that faces a certain veto, according to Reuters.

The House of Representatives has voted to dismantle the PPACA dozens of times, but Republicans were unable to get a repeal measure through the Senate until late last year, when they used a procedural maneuver denying Democrats’ ability to block the legislation.

The bill would also take funds away from Planned Parenthood, another target of Republicans after undercover videos showed officials of the women’s health care provider discussing the sale of fetus parts for research.

The Republican-run House finalized passage of the legislation on a 240–181 vote, sending the bill to the White House. Republican leaders are expected to try to override President Obama’s promised veto, but they lack the two-thirds majority needed to do so.

“We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth. [The PPACA] doesn't work,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said. Republicans intend to propose a replacement, but for it to become law, “ultimately, this is going to require a Republican president,” Ryan said.

Some plans sold via PPACA insurance exchanges have been struggling with weak enrollment, higher-than-expected medical costs, and increased premiums, Reuters reported.

A repeal of the PPACA would phase out an expansion of Medicaid health care benefits for the poor and eliminate health insurance subsidies for millions of Americans. But it would save money, Republicans say. The Congressional Budget Office said that the legislation would reduce the deficit by $516 billion over 10 years.

“Under [the PPACA], millions of Americans have been added to a Medicaid system that is already failing to provide its beneficiaries with adequate access to physicians and treatments,” said Representative Tom Price (R-Georgia).

Source: Reuters; January 6, 2016.