On January 19th, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would repeal the landmark healthcare reform law. The House voted 245-189 to repeal the law. The House measure will now go to the Senate. The reform bill was passed by Congress last year after a bitter debate. While most Americans know that a healthcare reform bill was passed, few have any idea what all the Act does for them. There has been a great deal of false or simply misleading information put out by opponents of the law. Perhaps the attention on this debate will actually be a good thing. At least it will give proponents of the Act the opportunity to explain what all it really does.
The House Republicans were joined by three Democrats in backing the bill, which also needs Senate passage. Most observers say that is unlikely. Even if the Senate were to pass the measure, President Obama has vowed to veto any effort to repeal the healthcare law, one of his biggest legislative victories. Republican leaders said they were committed to trying to repeal it in order to honor a campaign pledge that helped them win control of the House and gain seats in the Senate in Congressional elections last November.
Interestingly, polls show that Americans are evenly split on the healthcare reform law. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found that more Americans now believe it will hurt rather than help the struggling U.S. economy. But the same poll also showed that just 18% favor full repeal of the law. The Republican opposition has skillfully made healthcare reform a referendum on the President.
Republicans say the law saddles businesses with high costs and complicated regulations. Democrats say the law is an historic move to deliver health insurance to more than 30 million people who currently cannot afford it while also lowering medical costs and providing more consumer protections. The law will also bar insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions. According to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, repealing the law will damage the economy. He said that things must be done to bolster the recovery, and that “repealing the Affordable Care Act would be a step in the wrong direction.”
Some, but not all, of the provisions in the law have gone into effect. They include allowing young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, improving drug savings for the elderly on the government’s Medicare insurance program, and creating temporary high-risk pools to help people with medical conditions obtain health coverage. Other elements such as the creation of insurance exchanges to help individuals and small business compare and purchase plans will not go into effect until 2014.
In addition to what’s going on in Congress, there have been constitutional attacks on the Act in several federal courts. Federal courts have issued differing positions on whether a mandate that Americans purchase health insurance is permissible under the U.S. Constitution. The constitutional question is expected to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meanwhile, the media focus will be on the U.S. Senate.
Source: Insurance Journal
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