House Republicans Launch Repeal On Health Care Law

Washington (CNN) — House Republicans launched an all-out assault Tuesday against President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, holding a series of committee hearings and other events ahead of a planned vote Wednesday on repealing the measure.

At news conferences, in media interviews and before congressional panels, opponents of the 2010 Affordable Care Act depicted it as an unwarranted government intrusion in their health decisions that would reduce patients to commodities treated on a cost basis.

Democratic supporters complained that Republicans offer no real alternative to needed reforms in a health care structure that leaves millions of Americans uninsured and faces spiraling costs.

Any House repeal effort is sure to die in the Democratic-led Senate, and the White House made clear Obama would veto such a measure.

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However, the daylong GOP attacks on the health care law were intended to ignite public opposition to the law and force Democrats to publicly defend it. Republicans made clear that the goal is to inspire voters to rally against the law.

“If you give us more elected representatives to fix this problem, we will fix this problem in 2013,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said in an interview with CNBC.

The vote Wednesday will be the latest of more than 30 House GOP efforts to undermine the health care law, including previous Republican-led moves to repeal the measure or cut funding for various provisions. Even when passed by the House, the measures have mostly died in the Senate.

Wednesday’s vote also will be the first on the subject since last month’s Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the act popularly known as Obamacare.
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Obama and Democrats say the June 28 high court ruling should have ended the political debate over the health care law, rather than revive the Republican repeal effort.”The Supreme Court has spoken,” Obama told supporters at a campaign event Friday in Pittsburgh. “The law we passed is here to stay.”

On Monday, the White House formally notified House leaders that Obama will veto any repeal bill that manages to reach his desk, saying repeal “would cost millions of hard-working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve.””The last thing the Congress should do is refight old political battles and take a massive step backward by repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class,” a White House statement said. “Right now, the Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs.”

But Republicans, led by certain presidential nominee Mitt Romney, call for eliminating the law and starting over on the complex issue that affects every American.

“That’s why we’ve voted over 30 times to repeal it, defund it, replace it. And we are resolved to have this law go away and we’re gonna do everything we can to stop it,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Tuesday.

Democrats, meanwhile, complained the committee hearings Tuesday were stacked by the Republican leadership with witnesses opposing the health care law. They also repeatedly noted the federal law was modeled after a Massachusetts health care law implemented by Romney when he was governor.

“It would have been relevant if we could have had a doctor from Massachusetts be part of this hearing,” Rep. William Clay, D-Missouri, told a House Oversight subcommittee hearing on the law’s impact on the health care industry. “You know, their views would have been relevant since for the past five years they have been living with comprehensive health care reform, signed into law by Gov. Mitt Romney, that is substantially similar.”

During the hearing, Republican members cut off responses by the lone Democratic witness on the panel of five people who testified.

The witness, Ron Pollack of Families USA, had noted support for the health care law by major national organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Association of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicans, the AARP advocacy group for senior citizens and others.

When asked questions by GOP panel members, Pollack was admonished three times to limit his responses to “yes” or “no.”
Republican witnesses, meanwhile, complained that the health care law would deny people medical care based on need, saying cost would be the determining factor.

Dr. Dick Armstrong of Docs4PatientCare, an advocacy group opposed to the federal law, said the act “destroys” the doctor-patient relationship, adding: “This is the reality of Obamacare. There is no care.”

The GOP’s conservative base strongly opposes the individual mandate in the law that requires people to obtain health insurance or pay a fine.What the health care ruling means to you. In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the mandate is constitutional under the government’s taxing authority, and Republicans have jumped on that to characterize the provision as a tax increase on middle-class Americans.

Obama and Democrats respond that only people who can afford health insurance but choose not to get it would have to pay, amounting to about 1% of the population.

The health care issue has been among the most divisive of Obama’s presidency. Conservative anger over the measure helped launch the tea party movement, and conservative groups joined with industry groups to fund a giant public pressure campaign against the legislation, which Democrats pushed through Congress with no Republican support.

Opponents contend the health care law represents a dramatic government intrusion in the health care industry that will end up increasing costs for consumers and driving up budget deficits.

Supporters say the reforms are necessary to ensure that all Americans have access to health coverage. They note that some provisions already have brought benefits, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, and that the comprehensive approach is needed as a long-term strategy that will reshape the industry to control spiraling health care costs and improve overall care.

The major provisions of the health care law will take effect in 2014, including health insurance exchanges to provide options for individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage. Full implementation also will expand benefits, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for adults with pre-existing conditions.

Romney, while pledging to repeal the health care law if elected, also says some provisions of it should be maintained, such as the ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

On Monday, the Democratic campaign arm for the U.S. House of Representatives released a series of new online ads attacking some House Republicans over their opposition to the health care law. The ads target seven House Republicans considered vulnerable in November by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“House Republicans are sending an unmistakable message to voters that Republicans want to cut benefits for middle class families and protect insurance companies instead,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. “The American people don’t want more of these political stunts from Republicans to pander to special interests, they want action to strengthen the middle class and create jobs.”

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor joins a Republican news conference Tuesday to discuss repeal of the health care law.