Repeal vote won't end health-care debate

Swiftly honoring a campaign pledge, Republicans pushed legislation to repeal the nation's year-old health care overhaul through the House Wednesday, brushing aside opposition in the Senate and a veto threat from President Barack Obama.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 20, 2011; 8:43 AM

The debate over President Obama's health-care law isn't over.

House Republicans on Wednesday approved a measure to repeal the law, but that was largely symbolic. The measure is unlikely to advance in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

But a few hours after the vote, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced he would hold a hearing next week on what he calls the negative effects of the law on businesses and the economy.

That likely will be the first of many hearings and other legislation Republicans will push over the next year to build opposition to the health-care law, which they hope to actually repeal if a Republican wins the White House in 2012.

A group of chairmen of key congressional committees will preview their plans to "replace Obamacare" at a news conference on Thursday. Also Thursday, the House is likely to approve a measure calling on those committees to offer specific ideas to replace the provision Obama signed into law last year.

"Employers have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the effects of the Democrats' health-care law," Camp said. "This hearing provides us the opportunity to directly hear from employers about the higher taxes and new mandates that are in this law."

The continued debate illustrates the importance of the provision passed last year. Obama views the law as one of his most important achievements, potentially expanding health insurance to more than 30 million Americans.

Republicans argue that the law creates another entitlement program and effectively blocks conservative ideas on how to improve health care and reduce its costs. Therefore, they say, they must look for ways to dump it.

"Obamacare creates uncertainty for job creators, threatens Medicare as Floridians know it and lays the foundation for government-run health care," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who called on the Senate to take up the repeal measure.

Stay tuned ...

Obama today

The president meets at the White House with a group of mayors from across the country, then attends an event at the Kennedy Center to celebrate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration.

1 down, 12 to go

Almost a dozen Republicans are considering presidential runs in 2012. But President Obama may have sidelined at least one of his potential opponents on Wednesday.

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, now the U.S. ambassador to China, refused to rule out a 2012 run in a recent interview.

But, asked on Wednesday about the prospect of one of his ambassadors running against him, Obama joked: "I'm sure that him having worked so well for me will be a great asset in any Republican primary."

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