Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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House GOP votes to repeal health care

by Candice Miller on January 21, 2011

House GOP votes to repeal health care
By Chad Selweski
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

Fulfilling a campaign promise, House Republicans on Wednesday voted to repeal the 2010 health care reform bill, even as Democrats warned that millions of Americans would be kicked off of insurance plans just months after they gained access to coverage.
 
As expected, Macomb County’s two lawmakers split their votes along partisan lines, with Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, supporting the repeal, and Rep. Sander Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat who represents most of the county, voting in opposition.
 
“I think it (the reform bill) is a government intrusion. It’s a huge overreach into people’s personal lives,” Miller said, adding that she believes many small businesses will drop their insurance coverage, sending their workers to the government-subsidized health care “exchanges” to purchase an individual insurance policy.
 
“The president said that, if you like your coverage you can keep it. Well, you may like your coverage but your company is dumping you off, onto the exchange,” she said.
 
In his remarks on the House floor, Levin said that “repeal means retreat” and it would yank away new benefits for the sick, seniors on Medicare and young adults. He also vilified Republicans for rejecting numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that indicated repeal would add $230 billion to the federal deficit and would have little impact on employment.
 
“The Republicans don’t like what they’ve heard, so they just want to ignore what the CBO numbers show,” said Levin, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. “I think it shows that the Republicans want to follow their approach, regardless of the facts.”
 
Republican leaders predicted the 245-189 House vote would send a message to President Obama that the country has turned away from government fixes to the public’s pressing problems.
 
But Democrats still run the Senate and they pledge to block the GOP effort, so it’s not clear what the House action would mean, beyond a symbolic statement.
 
Levin said the repeal vote gave Democrats a strategic advantage in reducing public opposition to the 2010 bill.
 
“This gives us a renewed opportunity to get out the facts, to talk sense with the people of this country,” said the congressional veteran.
 
Miller, who spent several hours in the speaker’s chair presiding over the House session, said the debate was free of the rancor seen during the marathon sessions that culminated in party-line passage of the legislation last year.
 
The law will provide coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people, with tax credits to make premiums more affordable for the lower and middle class, along with an expanded Medicaid program for the poor. Starting in 2014, most people would have to buy insurance, a first-of-its-kind mandate that Republicans are challenging as unconstitutional in federal court.
 
Democrats are confident that the law will stand. Millions are already getting its benefits, from lower prescription prices for Medicare recipients with high drug costs to extended coverage for young adults on their parents’ insurance plan.
 
Wednesday’s vote came as a new Associated Press poll found that vehement opposition to the health care bill is fading. While the country remains split on the reforms, those strongly opposed — the constituency that inspired the House repeal vote — has shrunk to 30 percent, the lowest level in the AP-Gfk poll since September 2009.
 
In addition, the Republican mantra that the bill is a “job killing” measure was shown to be misleading by media organizations. The CBO has said that the impact on employment will be minimal and fact-checking reports found that much of the change — a purported 650,000 jobs lost — would be due to people currently working at two jobs in order to gain insurance coverage who would now settle for one job.
 
In the hours leading up to the vote, the White House and the Republican Party each made their case by presenting endorsements of their respective positions.
 
The GOP said that the repeal of “Obamacare” was backed by many of the nation’s top business groups: the National Federation of Independent Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
 
In contrast, the White House offered its list of groups opposing the repeal, including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, AARP, American Nurses Association, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Family Physicians.
 
House Republicans concede that they can’t compel Senate action on repeal, and the long-term GOP strategy to withhold funding needed to carry out the law seems to be unraveling. Money for major parts of the reform effort, particularly tax credits to make coverage affordable for the uninsured, creating state-based insurance marketplaces, and expanding Medicaid, was built into the law.
 
Miller said she anticipates that the GOP replacement legislation will probably maintain parental coverage for children under 26 years old and the ban on denying insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions. The new measure may also offer limits on medical malpractice awards in court, and more “market forces” to control rising costs, such as allowing the sale of insurance policies across state lines.
 
But Levin said the GOP approach, which labels the mandate on health insurance as unconstitutional, undermines a system in which a huge national insurance pool would put downward pressure on insurance rates for all. Without the mandate, he said, millions of healthy Americans would undermine the system by only seeking health care or insurance coverage when they get sick or injured.
 
“There is no way,” the congressman said, “that you can cover those with pre-existing conditions without the mandate.”
 
AP contributed to this report.

http://macombdaily.com/articles/2011/01/19/news/politics/doc4d37c2f289264427546567.prt

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