WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives again has voted to repeal the 2010 health care reform law, and the Senate again is expected to reject the proposal.
The Republican-controlled House voted 244-185 July 11 to rescind the controversial measure for the second time in 18 months. The roll call was almost totally along party lines, with only five Democrats joining all Republicans in supporting the repeal.
The Democrat-controlled Senate undoubtedly will turn back the legislation. It did so in early 2011 shortly after the new GOP majority took over the House and approved repeal of a law that was enacted less than a year before. President Obama also is committed to vetoing the repeal effort.
Since January 2011, the House has voted more than 30 other times to strip funding from the law or repeal portions of the measure only to have the Senate refuse to approve those efforts.
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land strongly supported the House’s vote for repeal.
“Our health-care system needs reform, but whatever the problems with our current health-care system are, Obamacare is not the answer to any of them,” Land said Wednesday. “We need to repeal Obamacare and start over with step-by-step measures to meet specific needs rather than continue with a more than 1,000-page law with countless regulations that no one fully understands.”
In a July 10 letter, Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), commended Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor for bringing repeal to the floor. On the same day, he urged ERLC constituents in an email alert to ask their representatives to vote for the bill.
The latest House vote for repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act came only two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law in a 5-4 vote. The high court ruled the law’s “individual mandate,” which requires almost all Americans to purchase health insurance, is a valid exercise of Congress’ power to tax.
The ERLC and other pro-life and religious freedom advocates oppose numerous aspects of the law and regulations issued to implement it, including:
– Its federal subsidies for abortion.
– An abortion/contraceptive mandate critics say violates religious liberty.
– A requirement that insurance plans in state exchanges refuse to disclose their abortion coverage until people are enrolled.
– A monthly “abortion surcharge” on each person enrolled in a plan that covers the procedure.
The abortion-contraceptive mandate – which requires all plans to cover contraceptives and sterilizations as preventive services without cost to employees – has been in the spotlight of criticism since a federal rule to that effect was announced in January. The mandate includes coverage of contraceptives that can cause abortions of tiny embryos. The rule regarding that mandate has a religious exemption critics find woefully inadequate and has elicited ardent opposition from church groups and religious freedom advocates.
The ERLC and GuideStone Financial Services of the Southern Baptist Convention have protested those provisions and others. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has led a charge against the abortion/contraceptive mandate and the failure to protect freedom of conscience and has been joined by pro-life and religious liberty organizations. Multiple lawsuits challenging the abortion/contraceptive mandate have been filed in federal courts.
The ERLC posted on its website July 10 a fact sheet on the law titled “What Obamacare Means for You.” It may be accessed at http://erlc.com/article/what-obamacare-means-for-you.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)