News / USA

    US House Passes Republican Health Bill With 39 Democratic Votes

    Rep. Raul Labrador (2nd from L) and members of the House of Representatives leave after the Republican-controlled House voted to let insurance companies sell individual health coverage to all comers, even if it falls short of required standards in "Obamac
    Rep. Raul Labrador (2nd from L) and members of the House of Representatives leave after the Republican-controlled House voted to let insurance companies sell individual health coverage to all comers, even if it falls short of required standards in "Obamac
    Reuters
    In the most significant legislative rebuke to President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, 39 members of his Democratic Party voted for a Republican bill in the House of Representatives on Friday aimed at undermining his signature domestic policy.
     
    The measure from Republican Representative Fred Upton of Michigan passed 261-157. Thirty-nine Democrats, nearly a fifth of the party's caucus, supported the measure, which was seen as a test of loyalty.
     
    Many Democrats fear the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act would hurt their re-election prospects in 2014.
     
    The bill was unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate. Obama would veto the legislation if it reached his desk, the White House said, warning it would undermine progress by allowing insurers to sell new substandard plans that do not provide basic services and offer little financial help for catastrophic health events.
     
    House Democrats said Upton's bill was designed to sabotage the larger law.
     
    “They [Republicans] are perfectly satisfied with 40 million Americans having no health insurance at all,” said Representative James McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat. “If you want to go back to a system where the insurance companies can turn people away because they are sick, by all means vote for this bill.”
     
    Obama, scrambling to rescue what was meant to be his biggest domestic policy achievement, on Thursday proposed a plan to allow insurers to extend by at least one year policies due to be canceled because they do not comply with new minimum requirements under the 2010 law, widely known as Obamacare.
     
    With several million people facing the prospect of having their existing policies canceled, Obama is trying to stem the damage to his credibility over his repeated promise that if people liked their policies they could keep them.
     
    The October 1 rollout of the program has been beset by technical glitches with the federal online insurance website that allows consumers to shop for policies. In recent days, HealthCare.gov's problems have been overshadowed by the controversy over the policy cancelations.
     
    U.S. Rep Ron Barber, a Democrat from Arizona, explained his vote for the bill.
     
    “I am frustrated and angered by the continuing problems with the health care website and I know Southern Arizonans are frustrated and angry, too.
     
    “Today I voted to give people the option to keep their current plan until these and other issues are resolved. That's only fair.”
     
    In an attempt to diminish that threat, House Democrats plan to offer their own plan that is similar to a bill from Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, that would allow insurers to renew policies slated to be canceled, a Democratic leadership aide said.
     
    It would also give the Department of Health and Human Services and state insurance commissioners the authority to go after insurers for excessive, unjustified, or discriminatory rates.
     
    Obama was due to meet health insurance chief executives on Friday, a day after insurers expressed concerns about his plan to help Americans who are losing their current coverage because of his healthcare overhaul.
     
    Insurers complained Obama's fix could create new problems and lead to higher premiums. State insurance commissioners, who regulate the market, said they were also concerned.
     
    Insurers who said they would attend Friday's meeting include Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini; Patrick Geraghty, chief executive of Florida Blue; Humana CEO Bruce Brussard and Patricia Hemingway, chief executive of Health Care Service Corp. Scott Serota, president and chief executive officer of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, will also attend.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.