Politico reported Monday that House Republicans have filed a bill that would repeal the health care reform legislation approved by Congress last March. The House is expected to take a vote on this repeal bill next Wednesday.
But Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., told the Herald on Tuesday that the repeal legislation “has no chance of becoming law” because it would need to win the approval of the Democratically controlled Senate and then need to muster enough votes to override a veto by President Barack Obama.
Here’s an article I wrote for Wednesday’s Herald about Peterson’s thoughts on the repeal effort and what repealing the legislation could mean for North Dakota and Minnesota:
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Tuesday he wonâ€™t support a Republican bill to repeal the 2010 health care law â€” even though he was one of 34 House Democrats who voted against the reform legislation last March.
â€œIt had some good things in it, but it had more bad things in it,â€ he said.
But he told the Herald heâ€™ll consider working with Republicans in the future as they try to strike down â€œproblemâ€ statutes in the existing legislation.
The Affordable Care Act cleared the House by a narrow 219-212 vote last March and was quickly signed into law by President Barack Obama.
On Monday, Republicans posted a two-page bill named the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. Itâ€™s set for a House vote next Wednesday, and could get the votes needed to pass â€” Republicans took control of the House in the November elections.
But Peterson said the bill â€œhas no chance of becoming lawâ€ because it wonâ€™t get enough support to pass the Senate, where Democrats still are the majority party.
And even if both chambers of Congress were to pass the bill, he said, Obama could simply veto the repeal.
â€œWeâ€™ve got enough problems without spending a bunch of time on something thatâ€™s not going to happen,â€ he said.
During his campaign against incumbent Earl Pomeroy, Republican Rep. Rick Berg, North Dakotaâ€™s new member of the House, criticized the Affordable Care Act and vowed to help repeal it if elected.
â€œOver the past year, North Dakotans have made it abundantly clear that they oppose the government takeover of health care, and Rick Berg will work to make sure their interests are represented in Washington,â€ Alee Lockman, Bergâ€™s communications director, said in a written statement to the Herald.
Peterson said he wonâ€™t support the repeal bill when it comes up for a House vote. However, heâ€™s willing to work with Republicans in the future if they target specific statutes or areas of reform in a â€œpiece by pieceâ€ manner.
â€œIâ€™d rather see us work though that instead of just play politics with it,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m willing to consider working with them if itâ€™s something I think can actually happen and itâ€™s something I can agree with.â€
Peterson was one of 34 House Democrats who broke party ranks and voted against the Affordable Care Act last March, but he said heâ€™s against scrapping the bill entirely because starting over now could delay necessary health care reforms for years.
â€œThis thing is going to blow up if we donâ€™t get it fixed,â€ he said. â€œWe donâ€™t have three or four years. Medicare is a huge problem.â€
Peterson said there are several revisions to the health care reform legislation that heâ€™d support, such as getting rid of the individual mandate that requires people to purchase coverage and removing a tax requirement for businesses to report transactions of more than $600.
He also wants to see language added to the bill to make it clear that federal funding canâ€™t be used for abortions, and said the legislation is missing a â€œcost controlâ€ provision to deal with rising prices.
But Peterson sees the current repeal effort as a political move that follows a year of Republican campaigning against the sweeping health care reform package.
â€œTheyâ€™re doing this because they made it a big issue in the election where they feel like theyâ€™ve got to do this,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™re going to go through this process and nothingâ€™s going to get done. Then I think theyâ€™re going to start doing what I want to do, which is start going through the bill piece by piece and fixing the bill.â€
During a Tuesday conference call with reporters, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said repealing the health care reform package â€œis a bad idea for America.â€
She said there are several examples of the law â€œgiving people more freedom and more choices,â€ even if some of the legislationâ€™s key provisions wonâ€™t take effect until 2014.
Sebelius said the reform gets rid of lifetime coverage limits and, eventually, will prohibit companies from denying insurance applicants based on their pre-existing medical conditions.
And the Congressional Budget Office expects the reform to cut the deficit by $1 trillion over the next several years, she said.
â€œThe repeal really takes away all of those freedoms and shifts powers directly back to the insurance companies,â€ she said.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, repealing the Affordable Care Act would affect thousands of North Dakota and Minnesota residents who benefit from the legislationâ€™s provisions.
More than 2,600 young adults in North Dakota and 11,400 in Minnesota would lose their insurance coverage through their parentsâ€™ health plans; the reform allows young adults to remain covered by their parents until age 26.
About 106,000 seniors in North Dakota and 747,000 in Minnesota who have Medicare coverage would have to pay a co-pay for preventive services, including mammograms and colonoscopies.
And repealing the law means 3.5 million Minnesotans and 403,000 North Dakotans who rely on private coverage would again be faced with lifetime limits set by insurance companies.
For now, Sebelius said the Department of Health and Human Services remains focused on implementing the law while making improvements to the legislation.
â€œThereâ€™s no question that repealing it would be a huge step backwards,â€ she said.
Johnson reports on local politics. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.