The U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act by approving a bill that would dismantle the current law and move forward to provide an alternative plan.
The bill, H.R. 596, was introduced in the House on January 28th and passed 239-186 on Tuesday; there was no support from House Democrats and three Republicans voted in opposition to the bill. CNN reported that GOP leaders believe passage of H.R. 596 is “the beginning of their effort to show they have a better plan,” although no alternative has been provided yet.
Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), who voted “no” on Tuesday, said that he doesn’t support Obamacare but a “free-market alternative” must be ready to replace the current law and H.R.596 does not have one. “Had Congress voted for the full repeal of ObamaCare two years ago, families and small businesses would have been able to adjust to the change. Now, however, more than 60,000 Mainers have invested their time and energy in choosing health care plans that work for their families,” Poliquin said in a statement.
“If Congress fully repeals ObamaCare, it must be fully prepared to replace it with a free-market alternative that requires health care plans to cover pre-existing conditions and be portable for workers changing jobs. Any replacement law must also allow moms and dads to purchase health insurance plans that they can afford, and to choose the doctors and hospitals that best fit their family health care needs,” Poliquin said.
Rep. John Katko (R-NY) also voted “no” and made similar remarks to those of Poliquin, saying in his own statement that he voted against the bill “because we failed to include replacement legislation.”
“With a majority in Congress, I would like to see the GOP come forward with market-based solutions,” Katko said. “I am disappointed that the bill taken up by Congress today did not provide a real solution to the rising costs of healthcare, but I will continue to fight for comprehensive, bipartisan healthcare reform for Central New York in Congress,” Katko said.
According to Politico, the bill would “delay repeal for six months to give Republicans an opportunity to offer an alternative package.”
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) told CNN that “I have urged leadership to put forth a plan as soon as possible.”
The House has voted dozens of times to repeal or obstruct the Affordable Care Act; Republicans claim H.R. 596 is their 67th attempt at a form of repeal, while Democrats reported 56 past attempts. This bill is not expected to pass the Senate, and the President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any repeal of the law. “I don’t know if it’s the 55th or the 60th time that [the House is] taking this vote, but I’ve asked this question before: why is it this would be at the top of their agenda?” Obama said.
“We have the Republicans continuing to bay at the moon. They’re baying at the moon,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said regarding the vote. “Instead of proposing any- which we’d be welcome to hear- good suggestions they may have to improve the Affordable Care Act, they’re baying at the moon.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had introduced a separate bill on Monday to “repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 entirely.”