GOP Won't Give Up On Dismantling Health Care Law
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.
Yesterday's vote in the House of Representatives is not likely to change a single person's health care. House Republicans voted to repeal the Health Care Law. Senate Democrats say they will not bring that measure to a vote at all.
MONTAGNE: The exercise did allow something that both say they welcome: An opportunity to debate the issue more fully.
NPR's Andrea Seabrook was listening.
ANDREA SEABROOK: When the health care overhaul was debated in 2009 and 2010, it was a concept, an idea, an abstraction. So there was a lot of debate about what horrible or wonderful thing it would do if it were enacted.
Well, now some parts of it have been enacted. And though Democrats knew they had little chance of winning the repeal battle yesterday, they came armed with stories - stories of Americans who have been helped by the new Health Care Law.
New York Democrat Steve Israel told the story of Hannah Watson, a girl from Bay Shore, Long Island, who was born with spina bifida. She's had multiple surgeries and a kidney transplant, all before the age of 12, said Israel.
Representative STEVE ISRAEL (Democrat, New York): At 12 years old, three months after her last surgery, her insurance company told her that she had reached her annual cap and they would not pay for additional treatment. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Hannah was able to finally get on her parents' insurance, at an affordable rate, with no lifetime caps.
SEABROOK: Republicans, too, came armed with stories. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said, just two days ago, he was in the Methodist Hospital of San Antonio.
Representative JEB HENSARLING (Republican, Texas): My mother had a large tumor removed from her head. They wheeled her away at 7:20 in the morning. By noon, I was talking to her, along with the rest of my family.
SEABROOK: With great doctors in an excellent hospital, Hensarling said his mother is fine. But
Rep. HENSARLING: I'm not sure that would be the outcome in Canada, the U.K., anywhere in Europe. No disrespect to our president, but when it comes to the health of my mother, I don't want this president or any president, or his bureaucrats or commissions, making decisions for my loved ones.
SEABROOK: Republicans called the law: A government takeover of health care. Tea Party favorite, Minnesota's Michele Bachmann called it: The crown jewel of socialism all arguments that drive New York Democrat Anthony Weiner batty.
Representative ANTHONY WEINER (Democrat, New York): You know, I want to just advise people watching at home, playing that now popular drinking game of you take a shot whenever Republicans say something that's not true. Please, assign a designated driver - this is going to be a long afternoon.
SEABROOK: Weiner says it's one of Republicans main debate tactics: Make stuff up.
Rep. WEINER: A hundred and thirty thousand new agencies, not true; new IRS agents, not true; death panels, not true; no tort reform in it, not true.
SEABROOK: From Republicans' perspective, mandating that every American buy private health insurance violates their personal freedom.
House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans are on the side of American public opinion, that after two years of debate, November's election was a referendum on the Health Care Law, and they won. Now, said Boehner, Republicans are simply doing what they said they'd do.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (R-Ohio, Speaker): We listened to the people. We made a commitment to them, a pledge to make their priorities our priorities.
SEABROOK: Now, because this bill is unlikely to even come up on the Senate floor, Republicans say they'll find every other way possible to dismantle and defund the law, through other legislation and the regular government spending bills.
And this is only the beginning of their two-year pitch to the American people, that Republicans should be the ones running the government, starting in early 2013.
Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol.
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