Obamacare is under attack from the House.
On Wednesday (Jan. 6), the House voted on a bill that would obliterate any federal funding of Planned Parenthood and remove some integral portions of Obamacare (aka The Affordable Care Act). The 240-181 vote means the bill will be sent to President Obama's desk.
While the legislation will end up in front of President Obama, it will almost definitely be vetoed. The House and Senate do not have the requisite two-thirds majority to override a veto.
Knowing this, then why bother? Because the Republicans in Congress have been trying to get rid of the Act since its inception in 2010. As the United States gears up to elect the next president, the vote sends a message. The Republicans are taking the opportunity to spread their agenda and highlight what they see as the areas in which they can bring change to the table. In short, they are trying to send the message that there are major issues that cannot be resolved with a Democratic mindset.
In response, the Democrats see this not as progressive thinking, rather, as evidence some Republicans may be more invested in rallying the party than actually getting things accomplished.
In USA Today on Wednesday, two legislators in particular had a little back-and-forth:
According to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis:
"The people deserve a truly patient-centered health care system," Ryan told reporters. "And ultimately, this is going to require a Republican president. That’s why our top priority in 2016 is going to be offering the country a clear choice with a bold, pro-growth agenda."
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the second highest-ranking Democratic leader in the House, said the vote is evidence that Ryan is more interested in energizing the Republican base than in legislating this year.
"This may be consistent with Speaker Ryan's agenda of essentially doing messaging in 2016 in preparation for the presidential election," Hoyer told reporters."
So what is the big deal? What are the pros and cons of The Affordable Care Act? That depends on who you ask.
The Democrats will tout the fact that insurance companies have been prevented from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and that parents can now keep their kids on their health insurance until they are 26 years old (which is a big help for those fresh out of college and entering the career market on the bottom rung). Also, about 17 million Americans have been able to get medical insurance coverage.
If one leans across the aisle to the Republicans, they will quickly respond by identifying that, although many now have coverage, healthcare costs continue to rise and patients have limited options when it comes to choosing their own physicians.
There is also the controversy over Planned Parenthood. While Planned Parenthood does much more than provide access to abortion services, that is the element that gets the most attention, leading to the never-ending war over abortion rights.
The bill sitting on Obama's desk would change the face of The Affordable Care Act drastically. Federal subsidies for individuals who are low or moderate income and buying their own insurance would be cut, affecting millions. The current mandate that requires employers with over 50 employees to provide health insurance would also be cut. Gone would be the planned expansion of Medicaid, which assists those in low-income brackets.
If (when) The President vetoes the bill, the Republicans will have an override vote. When? Why, when the anti-abortion rights "Right to Life" march takes place on January 22 in Washington, of course.