The Republican-led House of Representatives cast its 30th odd vote to repeal all or parts of the Democrats’ health care law with no chance of it being anything other than political showmanship. Predictably, all of Pennsylvania's Republicans voted to repeal it. And all Pennsylvania Democrats, even those who voted against the health care bill, did not.
After the vote, Lehigh Valley Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent defended the GOP repeal effort, saying it was always the intention to take a symbolic vote after the Supreme Court ruled on the law, adding that the debate on the nation's health care is one that will be ongoing for a long time. His colleague Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta said it was still a significant vote even if it wouldn't go anywhere right now.
"Many of the freshmen were sent here because of Obamacare, because the American people didn't want it," Barletta said off the House floor. "It's not only for show, it sets up the November election ... if we really want to repeal this law it's going to have to happen at the ballot box. So it is important to let the American people know where their members still stand."
"For me it was easy, it's the same place I stood 31 votes ago," Barletta said.
One of the criticisms of the Republican vote Wednesday afternoon is that it dealt with only half of the repeal-replace promise. Democrat Minority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said during the floor debate, “We have a repeal with no replacement, no alternative, no protection offered by my Republican colleagues.”
Dent said there will be a replacement package put forth by the Republicans sooner or later. He said he hopes it can be done "in a bipartisan manner that doesn't have Washington take over the system." He pointed to an outline of ideas that the Tuesday Group, a caucus of so-called centrist Republicans, put out a few years ago as a plan he thinks will be rolled out again.
That framework includes some of the popular provisions in the current law such as requiring health insurers to allow children to stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26 years old. It also has plans for prevention programs like the Democrats' plan and tries to make health insurance affordable for low income people through tax credits, whereas Democrats use subsidies to help low income people pay for insurance.
"We're doing a lot of talking about how we are going to replace this," Barletta said. "But what we're not going to do is what the Democrats did and pass a 2,000-page bill that no one understood including members of Congress."
But until the Republicans offer their own health care plan -- other than just for people to eat chicken noodle soup, as one New York Democrat mocked on the House floor -- the two days spent passionately rehashing the health care debate was nothing more than a political show. Or, as Muhlenberg College pollster Chris Borick called it Wednesday, "Window dressing."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times