Congressional Repeal of Obamacare is an Important Step Forward

Michi Iljazi

January 8, 2016

On March 23, 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka Obamacare, was signed into law.  Now, less than two months away from its sixth anniversary, the United States Congress finally passed an Obamacare repeal bill that will be sent to President Obama.  While it is likely that the bill will be vetoed and unable to be overridden in the Senate, this is an important moment in the fight against Obamacare. This victory, while not fully realized without a President willing to sign the repeal bill, presents an opportunity for Congress to make their case on the best way forward to fix the problems that do exist within our healthcare system today.

On Wednesday January 6, the House voted 240-181 to repeal Obamacare.  The same bill passed the Senate in December by a vote of 52-47 through a process called reconciliation.  TPA applauded House and Senate leaders for finally doing what had been promised for several years; get a repeal bill onto the President’s desk:

“What Congress did this week was fulfill a promise made to taxpayers and all voters who have been feeling the negative impacts of Obamacare for the last five-plus years. Obamacare sign-ups have flattened, and Obamacare co-ops are flatlining. Nationwide employers are having to make tough decisions just to keep their doors open, but these decisions are costing the economy jobs, and right now there is still a weak recovery being harmed everyday that Obamacare continues to be the law of the land.”

The legislation, H.R. 3762, Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act dismantles Obamacare by repealing components including subsidies, tax credits, and the Medicaid expansion provisions. It also eliminates many of the Obamacare taxes such as the medical device tax, health insurance tax, medicine cabinet tax and other HSA/FSA restrictions. Most importantly, it would do away with the both the individual and employer mandate penalties right away. The Congressional Budget Office reported recently that H.R. 3762 would save taxpayers $516 billion over the next ten years, if enacted.

It is guaranteed that President Obama will veto the bill, after which the House will attempt to override the veto.  Even if they can, it is expected that the Senate will fail in any attempt to override. However, now that Congress has made good on their promise to force the President to veto this unpopular and unworkable law, there is a chance for a larger discussion and action on making real healthcare reform possible. Repealing Obamacare is just the first step, and now that Congress has legislation to do that, it’s time for House and Senate leadership to focus on solutions beyond Obamacare repeal.

While TPA is supportive of efforts by Congress this week, and very disappointed in what will likely be a rare veto for the President, this should be the beginning of Congress’ work to repeal Obamacare, not the end.

Besides Congress, the next President will have an important role in the future of Obamacare and must be prepared to either stand by a failing law, or present solutions that Congress can support.   Congress and the next President must reform healthcare in a meaningful way that keeps costs low, doesn’t restrict access to care, and won’t put the burden for coverage of all solely on the middle class.

TPA is hopeful that 2016 can be a starting point for finally doing away with Obamacare. Congressional leaders and Presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle must be prepared to tell the voters how they would fix the healthcare system.

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