Just a day after the release of a federal study showing that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act could prevent more than 25 million Americans from being denied health insurance, the Republican-led House of Representatives voted Jan. 19 to repeal the law.

According to The Hill newspaper, the Republican-led House voted 245-189, with three Democrats joining the GOP majority in favor of repeal. The three are Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Mike Ross of Arkansas. 

“Repeal means paving the way for better solutions that will lower costs without destroying jobs or bankrupting our government,” Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in remarks on the floor prior to the vote, according to The Hill. “Let’s stop payment on this check before it can destroy more jobs or put us into a deeper hole.”

However, the House’s repeal is unlikely to clear the Democrat-held Senate or survive a presidential veto, according to CNN. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he would prevent his chamber from even voting on the measure, CNN reported.

The health care reform act, which Obama signed into law last year, granted health coverage to over 32 million Americans over a four-year period. Supporters say without the law, millions of Americans can lose or be denied coverage.

According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report released on Jan. 18, between 19 and 50 percent of non-elderly Americans have some type of pre-existing health condition and up to one in five non-elderly Americans are uninsured. Under the Affordable Care Act, these Americans cannot be denied coverage, be subjected to an extended waiting period, have their benefits limited by insurance companies or be charged significantly higher premiums.

Dr. Garth Graham, HHS deputy assistant secretary in charge of the Office of Minority Health said in a teleconference on Jan. 18 that the measure particularly protects African-Americans who “have long suffered from severe and pervasive health disparities and face barriers in quality care.” He added that Blacks have long been disproportionately impacted by a number of diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

“This new law represents the most significant federal effort to help eliminate and close the gap in health disparities and health inequities that exist within our country,” Graham told reporters. “The law contains more than 75 equity-specific provisions that will help advance healthcare for minority communities across the board.”

According to the report, up to 82 million Americans with employer-based coverage have a pre-existing health condition. Without the Affordable Care Act, those conditions prevent them from obtaining affordable health insurance if they become self-employed, get a job that doesn’t offer coverage or experience a change in life circumstance such as retirement, divorce, or relocation to a different state.

Upon the release of the report, Republicans dismissed the data as political posturing by Democrats, according to Reuters News. The GOP has vowed to fight the measure through different strategies this year, and erode the power of the health care reform laws passed last year.

On Jan. 20, the House voted to begin drafting possible replacements for what Obama opponents have labeled “Obamacare.” That process could last through the 2012 presidential election season, according to CNN.

 

Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor