USA Today is reporting on the Senate session which lasted seven hours on Wednesday evening and resulted in a vote of 51-48 in favor of approving a budget resolution that will be used to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Senators began voting on 19 amendments to the resolution about 6:30 p.m. before passing the measure at 1:30 a.m. yesterday morning.
The resolution will direct key committees to write draft legislation by Jan. 27 to repeal the health care law.
With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and the White House, their years-long desire of repealing the vastly unpopular health care law now appears to be possible.
The Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, was passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote and has resulted in sky-rocketing premiums and deductibles along with fewer health care choices for patients as insurers pull out of the program.
"When Obamacare’s supporters forced their partisan law on our country, they promised an easy-to-use system; one that would lower premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs; one that would foster choice and allow families to keep the plans and doctors they liked," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "But it didn’t take long for the American people to discover the truth about Obamacare. Too many have been personally hurt by this law. Too many feel they’re worse off than they were before Obamacare."
Although Democrats are fighting the repeal, claiming it will “make America sick again,” Republicans are prepared to introduce a replacement plan concurrently with the repeal.
"We’re going to use every tool at our disposal through legislation, through regulation, to bring replace concurrent along with repeal, so that we can save people from this mess," said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) during a press conference on Tuesday.
Speaker Ryan did not unveil details of the replacement but President-elect Donald J. Trump said it would be forthcoming along with the confirmation of the new head of the Department of Health and Human Service – Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia – a physician who has been working on a better plan for years.
As USA Today explains, the Republicans are planning to use a procedural tactic known as budget reconciliation which will allow the Senate to pass the repeal of Obamacare with only a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the 60-vote super majority required to pass most bills. Speaker Ryan has already confirmed that an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood will be part of this reconciliation bill. Because the Senate and House of Representatives is currently controlled by Republicans, it will be difficult for Democrats to effectively block this process.
President Donald J. Trump made repeal of Obamacare a signature issue during the campaign and is expected to sign off on the reconciliation bill when it reaches his desk.
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