By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Friday, January 15, 2017, the US House of Representatives voted to use the budgeting process to amend the Affordable Care Act using a procedure known as budget reconciliation. Although called a “budget,” this legislation influences, but does not control, future spending. The McConnell-Ryan plan amends Obamacare (but does not repeal it) by stripping several provisions. Under the plan, Obamacare will still exist in a diluted form, and absent the individual and employer mandates.
“Over the last few years, Republicans around the country have campaigned on repealing Obamacare and instead moving forward with patient-centered health care reforms that lower costs for American families,” stated US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL1). “Today’s vote was an important first step in that process.
“It is important to remember that this will be a multi-step process, but Congress must act. Obamacare is imploding before our eyes. Premiums have skyrocketed, deductibles are unaffordable, and patients have fewer and fewer health care options. This process is about addressing those issues and bringing real relief to the American people.”
House and Senate Republicans are not repealing Obamacare, however, as they have promised for years. Instead, they are only amending it and are expected to keep many of the core provisions. “House Conservatives asked House Leadership to let the House vote for a bill that completely repeals ObamaCare, the same kinds of votes we have had over the past six years,” stated Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL5). “Unfortunately, the Senate dictates to the House that we vote to amend ObamaCare, not repeal it. As a result, there will be much work left to be done if Congress is to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety.”
The resolution instructs the relevant committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate to begin work on repeal legislation. The process, known as reconciliation, is necessary to overcome the 60 vote threshold to end a filibuster in the Senate, where Republicans hold only 52 seats. Bills moved through the reconciliation process must be budgetary in nature, but only require a simple majority to pass the Senate. The resolution has already passed in the Senate and does not need the President’s signature.
“By taking this first step toward repealing Obamacare, we are closer to giving Americans relief from the problems this law has caused,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). “Too many families have seen costs soar, quality drop, and choices reduced to one—which just isn’t a choice at all. This resolution gives us the tools we need for a step-by-step approach to fix these problems and put Americans back in control of their health care.”