House Republicans announced Monday that they would vote to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul on January 12.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), the incoming House Majority Leader, made the announcement after Republicans posted the proposed legislation, "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act," on the House Rules Committee web site.
"Obamacare is a job killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs," Cantor spokesperson Brad Dayspring said in a statement. "Further, ObamaCare failed to lower costs as the president promised that it would and does not allow people to keep the care they currently have if they like it. That is why the House will repeal it next week."
Rather than replacing Obama's health care legislation, the Republicans' bill tasks four committees with crafting a replacement health care bill. The repeal bill requires the replacement legislation to include certain provisions, including lowering insurance premiums, ensuring that people with preexisting conditions receive access to affordable coverage, eliminating wasteful spending and fostering economic growth. The provisions would also prohibit taxpayer coverage of abortions and provide "conscience protections" for doctors.
Senate Democrats have promised to block repeal efforts, and a repeal would surely not withstand President Obama's veto pen.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) wrote in a letter to incoming House Speaker John Boehner, "We urge you to consider the unintended consequences that the law's repeal would have on a number of popular consumer protections that help middle class Americans."
In particular, Democrats have expressed concern over the fate of the Medicare "doughnut hole," should the repeal pass. Under the current health care law, Medicare recipients who have a gap in their coverage will receive a discount when purchasing brand-name drugs. "If House Republicans move forward with a repeal of the healthcare law that threatens consumer benefits like the 'donut hole' fix, we will block it in the Senate," Reid stated in his letter. "Taking this benefit away from seniors would be irresponsible and reckless at a time when it is becoming harder and harder for seniors to afford a healthy retirement."
Reid noted that many of the law's provisions have not yet gone into effect.
"This proposal deserves a chance to work," Reid wrote. "It is too important to be treated as collateral damage in a partisan mission to repeal health care."
The letter was co-signed by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Democratic Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (D-New York), Conference Secretary Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Policy Committee Vice Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan).
House Democrats are also developing plans to fight the repeal. The Hill reported that Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) sent a memo to his colleagues urging them to co-sponsor amendments protecting important aspects of the health care law, to be presented during the House Rules Committee meeting.
"We intend to offer a series of amendments to their bill at the Rules Committee that will preserve critical provisions of this landmark law that have broad public support," Welch wrote in the memo.
Welch's amendments include preserving the elimination of lifetime limits, coverage of individuals up to age 26, free preventive care and access to coverage for those with preexisting conditions.