The new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has voted by 245 to 189 to repeal President Barack Obama’s top legislative accomplishment, health care reform. Democrats defended the new law, saying it protects Americans from the unfair practices of some insurance companies. Republicans called the law a "government take-over" of health care.
Most Republican lawmakers campaigned against President Obama’s health care law, calling it "Obamacare" ahead of the November midterm elections, when Republicans took back majority control of the House but not the Senate. House Republicans made good on their campaign promises to voters by voting to repeal the law, and they were joined by three Democratic lawmakers.
Republican Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota said Republicans will not stop until the health care law is repealed, calling it, in her words, "the crown jewel of socialism.".
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"This is not symbolic, this is why we're sent here and we will not stop until we repeal a president and put a president in the position of the White House who will repeal this bill.,” she said.
Republican efforts to repeal the law outright are virtually certain to fail now, because Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says he will not even bring health care repeal to a vote in the Senate. President Obama has also stated that he would veto any repeal bill that comes to his desk. The president says he is willing to work with
both Democrats and Republicans to improve certain aspects of the law, but called on Republicans not to "go backwards" and urged them not to take away the increased security for Americans he says the law provides. The law, when it is fully implemented, will bar insurance companies from refusing coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions and will extend health insurance to more than 30 million currently uninsured Americans.
New Jersey Democratic Representative Rush Holt said the law ushers in a new era.
"The law insures that health insurance companies actually have to provide health insurance, not just in name,” he said. “But it requires that they spend your premium dollars on actually providing health care."
But most of the Republican lawmakers voiced concerns about the costs of implementing the law, including Republican Representative Todd Rokita of Indiana.
"Health care is not a right, and if we are not careful the 'feel good' empty promises made in this law will bankrupt our country, and leave our grandkids to pay for it,” he said.
Republicans say if they cannot repeal the law as long as Mr. Obama is president, they will try to cut off funding for implementation. The controversial issue of reforming America’s health care system has dominated Congress for much of the past two years. Democrats finally managed to pass health care reform legislation though both houses of Congress almost one year ago.
Public opinion polls show that the Americans are also divided over the law, with about 48 percent currently opposing it, and about 40 percent supporting it. Both Democrats and Republicans are seeking to sway public opinion over to their side of the issue.