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Senate Republicans Repeal Affordable Care Provisions––Again

Obama promises swift veto

After 5 years of failed attempts, U.S. Senate Republicans have passed a bill to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), but the effort has already been condemned to death by President Obama’s plans to veto it, according to a report from Reuters.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52 to 47 to repeal several core PPACA provisions under special budget procedural rules that allow passage with a simple majority. Democrats in the Senate have blocked more than 60 previous Republican attempts aimed at rolling back the 2010 legislation designed to provide health care for millions of uninsured Americans.

The new bill seeks to phase out a major expansion of Medicaid health care benefits for the poor under PPACA and to eliminate health insurance subsidies and taxes on medical devices and high-cost plans offered by employers. It also aims to deny funding to women’s health care provider Planned Parenthood, which Republicans have been trying to punish for months over accusations that it illegally sold tissue from aborted fetuses. The group denies the allegations.

The vote gives Republicans their first real chance of putting a PPACA repeal bill onto the president’s desk, which would allow them to make campaign claims that they finally passed legislation to kill the program.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi said in a debate that the PPACA was “unworkable, unaffordable, and more unpopular than ever. For millions of Americans the law today represents nothing more than broken promises, higher costs, and fewer choices.”

Republicans lack the two-thirds majority needed to override the promised veto by President Obama.

The legislation still needs a vote in the House of Representatives, as it differs from a House version passed in October that concentrated on repealing the PPACA’s mandates for individuals to buy health insurance and for larger companies to offer health plans to employees.

The vote comes at a time when some plans sold via PPACA insurance exchanges have been struggling with weak enrollment, higher-than-expected medical costs, and increased premiums.

Source: Reuters; December 4, 2015.

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