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U.S. Senate nixes GOP health care repeal effort

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 at 4:04 pm in Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, healthcare reform, Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Senate today nixed Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and roll back last year’s health care reforms.

CNN explains how the vote actually worked:

The specific motion the Senate will vote on Wednesday involves a Democratic challenge to the Republican repeal amendment on the grounds that it would increase the federal deficit. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the health care reform law will lower the deficit by $230 billion over 10 years, so Democrats argue that repealing it would increase the deficit.

By filing a budget point of order against the repeal amendment, Democrats will force Republicans to hold a vote on waiving the point of order to consider the amendment. That will require 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to pass, a threshold out of reach of the Republicans, who hold 47 seats.

The repeal amendment died on a 47-51, party-line vote.

But the Senate did agree, on a bipartisan 81-17 vote, to approve a Democratic amendment repealing part of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies to file a 1099 tax form for all goods and services valued at more than $600; it affects nearly 40 million self-employed workers, companies and charities, according to the IRS.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said:

“I am pleased that efforts to repeal the health reform law failed. This law may not be perfect, but overturning it would mean once again refusing insurance to anyone with a pre-existing condition, higher drug prices for seniors, and increasing the millions of Americans without health coverage.

“I pledge to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve this bill. Both sides agree that the onerous 1099 IRS reporting provision must go. I firmly believe we need a strong rate review authority to prevent unfair health insurance rate increases, which is why I have already introduced the Health Insurance Rate Review Act of 2011, to grant regulatory authority to reject unfair insurance premium hikes.

“The best solution is to repair, not repeal.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said:

“If Republicans had succeeded in repealing health care reform, nearly 450,000 California seniors would pay thousands of dollars more for their prescription drugs; small businesses nationwide would lose out on $40 billion in tax credits; children could be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition; and taxpayers would see the deficit increase by $230 billion over the next ten years and $1.3 trillion over the next two decades.

“Instead of fighting the old political battles of the past, Republicans should join us in improving health care reform – as we did today by reforming the 1099 reporting requirement. We should not go back to the days where 62 percent of all bankruptcies were linked to a health care crisis and 45,000 people a year died because they could not get access to health insurance.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said:

“The Senate Republicans promised the American people we would vote to repeal Obamacare, and we have done that. But this fight isn’t over. We intend to continue the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare with sensible reforms that would lower the cost of American health care, like medical malpractice, like selling insurance across state lines. This fight isn’t over, so I hope you’ll stay in the fight with us.”

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the Finance Committee’s ranking chairman, put it more forcefully:

“This budget-busting, unconstitutional $2.6 trillion health law must be repealed – it destroys jobs, increases health costs, raises taxes, and threatens liberty all in the name of one of the greatest expansions of federal power in our nation’s history. It’s not too late to fix this – we can and should start over on real reform that actually reduces health costs without the heavy hand of government.

“For two years, the American people and the people of my state of Utah were clear that they did not want this government takeover of health care. And once the White House and its Capitol Hill allies jammed it through using every budget gimmick and parliamentary trick in the book, the American people called on Congress to repeal it. The House heard that call and acted; and Senate Republicans have as well. Unfortunately, the majority in the Senate hasn’t gotten the message. This fight does not end today – we will use every tool available to tear down a law that is a threat to liberty itself.”

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  • John W

    Re: Mitch McConnell — The GOP “big idea” for health care is selling insurance across state lines and tort reform. I dig the latter, but somebody should force the GOP to stop with the snake oil talk and specifically walk us through just how selling insurance across state lines does anything to improve the health care system in terms of affordability, “bending the cost curve,” quality or accessibility. I’d be all for being able to buy insurance in a properly regulated national insurance marketplace, rather than state-by-state. That WOULD be good. But what the GOP idea is really about is deregulating health insurance and allowing insurers to domicile in South Dakota or some other state friendly to its interests. Even assuming it would increase competition in the health insurance industry (a dubious supposition if you know how the business functions), the place where lack of transparency and other market disciplines is affecting both cost and quality is not in insurance, but in the health care delivery system itself (docs, hospitals, drugs), and in the fact that consumers don’t have a clue, or care what stuff costs. It’s amazing to me that even the Times, in an editorial, bought into this notion that selling insurance across state lines would be some sort of a miracle cure for health care. I’d also like to see the Times explain just how they think that would fix anything.

  • Elwood

    “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the health care reform law will lower the deficit by $230 billion”

    That’s based on numbers given to CBO by the (then) dimmiecrat controlled Congress. The CBO just crunches the numbers they are given.

    The reality, although in dispute, may be much different.

  • John W

    It’s not an exact science, so CBO’s forecast could be off the mark, or not. But they are the only judge of the numbers without a dog in this fight. So, why would I believe the GOP’s numbers (or Dems’ for that matter) more than CBO’s? The notion that CBO “just crunches the numbers they are given” is a GOP talking point. They do work with the assumptions they are given but also flag assumptions they consider unreasonable and do best, middle and worst case scenarios. The GOP also says the 10 year deficit reduction is because of revenues being front-loaded (10 years of revenue and 6 years of spending). Sounds like a “gotcha,” except that they ignore CBO’s estimate that deficit savings would be even greater in the second ten years.

  • Elwood

    “There’ll be pie in the sky by and by. It’s a lie!” –Woody Guthrie

  • http://juliekinnear.com Julie Kinnear

    The repeal of the bill as a whole would have detrimental consequences for the country. There definitely are very good provisions and especially the repeal of the provision saying that nobody can be denied health insurance based on a pre-existing condition would cause a lot of problems to people diagnosed with serious medical conditions.

  • For Liberty

    The national health care plan is unsustainable, even with the assumption that the economy will improve. It will kill the free market and lead to rationing. It’s a nice idea to think that we can all cover ourselves and others in times of medical needs, but it is just not practical, especially as the numbers of unemployment grow out of balance with those who are employed. An example, would be that of social security, which is expected to face bankruptcy in the near future. Although the soon collapse of social security is upon us, we still pay into, thinking it will be there when we need it.

  • John W

    Re: For Liberty #6

    “It will kill the free market.” BS. Whether it’s a good bill or not, the health care law is primarily about reforms in the individual insurance market (for people who don’t have the protections and huge tax subsidies of health insurance obtained through employers) and setting up exchanges to facilitate the purchase of PRIVATE insurance. Not sure how that will “kill the free market.” We already “ration” health care and will, of necessity, always ration it through one mechanism or another. When private insurers and Medicare started reducing payments to doctors, the docs were forced to see more patients for shorter appointments, and it took longer to get an appointment. That’s rationing. When insurers refuse to pay for certain claims, that’s rationing. When it takes longer to get an MRI or a hip replacement in Canada, that’s rationing. On the other hand, you get in to see a primary care doc much more quickly in Canada. As for Social Security facing bankruptcy, it can never “go broke” as long there are payroll taxes coming in. When the trust fund IOU’s have been used up by 2035 or so, payroll taxes are projected to cover 75% of scheduled benefits. By current law, if no changes are made, Social Security is required to reduce benefits to match revenues. But the benefits would still be higher than what they are today. That’s not the same as going bankrupt, where the system collapses and wouldn’t be able to pay any benefits. If you want to talk about something going bankrupt, that would be Medicare. If no changes are made, the Part A Hospital Trust fund will be used up in about 12 years, with payroll taxes then being sufficient to cover only 80% of costs. The health care bill actually pushes out that day of reckoning by several years by gradually reducing the inflated subsidies for Medicare Advantage and by reducing payments to hospitals — since hospitals will have fewer uncompensated care patients due to more people being insured. Medicare Part B (doctor fees) and Part D (prescriptions) are paid for mostly out of the general fund rather than by dedicated payroll taxes. That’s a problem that will have to be solved by having people on Medicare pay a significantly bigger share.

  • For Liberty

    John,

    This bill was passed without Congress even reading it. The health care act will create the largest growth in government in our history. I don’t see how it is sustainable and thus will cripple us, rather than help us. Romney Care in MA is experiencing these problems now. See the following link for more information:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPpe4dALsJ8

  • Elwood

    We are so fortunate to have the world’s foremost authority posting here!

  • John W

    Oh Elwood, stop bragging about yourself!

  • John W

    Liberty,

    McNerney, for one, did read it. The eventual cost of this law doesn’t even come close to the cost of either Medicare or the annual tax subsidy for employer-sponsored coverage. The cost is in roughly the same ballpark as the prescription drug program that was passed by the GOP without even attempting to pay for it. RomneyCare may have some kinks, but only 3% of citizens in MA are now uninsured, compared to 17% nationwide and more than 20% in states like California and Texas. I don’t know your circumstances, but most people who oppose this law (including members of Congress) have not walked in the shoes of people who are at the mercy of the individual health insurance industry. This law is not the approach I would have preferred, and maybe it will get overturned by either the Court or by Congress and a new president in 2013 (ironically, maybe even Romney). But the problems will only get worse.

  • Elwood

    Re: #11

    See #9

  • For Liberty

    John,

    I believe there are still some enormous unknown cost from this bill that not even those who passed it could have ever imagined. I believe the passing of this bill was unconstitutional, just as was the GOP prescription drug program. These bills chip away at our freedoms and erode them to the point where it is practically impossible to get them back. No matter what my situation is, every time we accept federal aid, we almost invariably surrender a degree of freedom or control.

    I respect your opinion for accepting this bill as a possible solution to our problematic health care system. As for me, I would have preferred to have maintained my free agency and thus don’t believe the bill will be the answer to the problems we seek.

  • John W

    For Liberty,

    We’re all entitled to our opinions. But can you explain what you mean by wanting to maintain your “free agency” and what it is about the new law that prevents you from maintaining it?