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House votes to repeal health care law

by Candice Miller on January 21, 2011

House votes to repeal health care law
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington— The U.S. House’s new GOP majority Wednesday fulfilled a campaign promise to pass a wholesale repeal of the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill signed into law last year. But with the Democrat-controlled Senate refusing to take up the legislation, Republicans are now strategizing a piece-by-piece dismantling.
The 245-189 vote for repeal came after a full day of rhetorical volleying both on the House floor and outside the lower chamber. Republicans argued over the constitutionality of the bill’s eventual mandate for nearly all Americans to purchase health coverage, while congressional Democrats and the White House highlighted wide-reaching, popular provisions of the law, including bans on rejecting customers because of pre-existing conditions and the ability to keep children on their parents’ policies through age 26.
Republicans were backed up on the repeal vote by a sizeable coalition of business lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, many of whom supported their campaign to retake the lower chamber.
Michiganian lawmakers were front and center through much of the debate: Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, oversaw the debate for part of the afternoon, while Republican committee chairs Reps. Dave Camp of Midland and Fred Upton of St. Joseph along with Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, led debate for their parties.
Freshman Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Iron Mountain, the former cardiologist from the U.P. who won retired Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak’s 1st District seat on a campaign against the reform law, was one of many doctors-turned-politicians speaking against the bill Wednesday afternoon. He argued the law “does not build the doctor-patient relationship. It threatens us,” he said, arguing repeal “gives us a second chance.”
Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, who introduced a health care reform bill every year since he took his seat in 1955, promised his party would “see that the American people benefit from this.”
While both parties remained impassioned in their arguments, the vote was largely symbolic, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled the upper chamber wouldn’t bring the House bill to a vote. Firm in their pro-repeal stance, Camp and Upton are slated to hold a news conference along with three other committee chairs to tell how they’ll use their respective committees to defund full implementation of the bill.
The House’s Judiciary Committee, of which Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, is the ranking member, will hold the first healthcare-focused hearing of the 112th Congress on Thursday that will look at reining in medical malpractice suits, which Republicans contend adds billions annually to healthcare costs. The GOP is also expected to bring up a resolution directing committees to draft replacement legislation.
Before Wednesday’s debate, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, the new chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, took to the airwaves on MSNBC, saying “Americans are going to be with us.”
Among those watching the vote closely back in Michigan was Sean McCarthy, 49, of Warren, who wants the health care legislation to stay in place. He has two adult children, 23 and 20, living at home and they have to be fulltime college students to remain on his health insurance.
One problem: his children largely pay their own tuition at Wayne State University and Macomb Community College, and with the economy tight and his son’s hours at a retail store cut back, his son couldn’t afford to attend MCC for a semester.
Now, with the health care legislation in place, McCarthy’s kids still have coverage until up to age 26 — a “huge relief,” McCarthy said.
“I would hate to see it go away,” McCarthy said of the benefit.
Dr. Fadwa Gillanders would have been watching the House debate live Wednesday on C-SPAN if the clinical pharmacist wasn’t seeing patients at Henry Ford Health System.
Gillanders believes in the need for health insurance reform, but said the new law is the wrong direction and is hoping for a repeal and redo, she says.
“Some people say it’s symbolic,” Gillanders, 37, of Royal Oak, said of the House vote. “I hope it’s more than that, I really do.”Real reform would shift the system away from employer-based health insurances to patients, allowing the expansion of health savings accounts, tax deductions for individuals buying insurance and competition along state lines, she said.
Republicans said they’ll pursue many of those provisions in their forthcoming replacement language, though it’s unclear if it would have any chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate.

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