WASHINGTON – House Republicans voted for the 37th time Thursday evening to repeal all or part of President Barack Obama's health care law, underscoring once again the deep partisan divide over the landmark 2010 legislation.
The bill to roll back the entire Affordable Care Act passed 229-195, with just two Democrats crossing the aisle to join the GOP. No Republicans voted against the legislation, which is assured of going nowhere in the Senate.
"Republicans will continue to work to scrap the law in its entirety so we can focus on patient-centered reforms that lower cost and protect jobs, because jobs is what this is all about," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday.
Democrats, who highlighted the lack of a GOP alternative for expanding health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, ridiculed the repeal legislation.
"Not only is this a clear waste of time and of taxpayer dollars, it's a deliberate vote to eliminate the affordable quality health and care benefits millions of Americans are already enjoying," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.
The Obama administration continues to move ahead with implementing the law, despite the continued GOP resistance.
The Department of Health and Human Services is gearing up to open new Internet-based insurance markets, known as exchanges, this fall in dozens of states for consumers who can't get health insurance through their employer. The law for the first time will prohibit all insurers from denying coverage, even to consumers with pre-existing medical conditions. Many states will operate their exchanges next year.
Administration officials also are working closely with many states to open their Medicaid programs to all poor adults starting next year, with the help of hundreds of billions of dollars of new federal funding.
But the unprecedented political assaults on the law have taken a toll. The Obama administration has had to scramble to come up with financing because congressional Republicans have not appropriated new money for implementing the legislation.
And next year, millions of poor Americans in Republican-controlled states will be left without health coverage because GOP governors and legislators, citing the cost of the law, have rejected the Medicaid expansion.
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