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President Obama Vetoes Budget Reconciliation Bill With ACA Repeals

On Friday, President Obama vetoed a budget reconciliation bill (HR 3762) that would have repealed major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the New York Times reports (Harris, New York Times, 1/8).

The reconciliation process allows legislation to advance through the Senate on a simple majority vote. The process can be used to target aspects of the ACA that address spending and revenue, meaning the technique could not uproot the entire law. However, such an effort could render the law "unworkable."

The budget reconciliation measure would repeal the law's taxes on:

  • "Cadillac" health plans;
  • Medical devices;
  • Indoor tanning services;
  • Over-the-counter medications; and
  • Prescription drugs.

The bill also would eliminate:

  • The ACA's individual and employer mandates;
  • The ACA's subsidies to help consumers purchase health plans through the exchanges created under the law; and
  • Fines that can be levied on U.S. residents and businesses for not purchasing or offering health coverage under the law.

Further, the bill would:

  • Phase out the ACA's Medicaid expansion after a two-year transition period;
  • Remove risk-adjustment programs that reimburse insurers; and
  • Repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

In addition, the measure would strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood for one year and redirect some of the funding to community health centers

Veto Details

In his veto message, Obama said the bill would "reverse the significant progress" that has been "made in improving health care in America," noting that the ACA has extended health coverage to about 17.6 million U.S. residents. He concluded, "Because of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto" (New York Times, 1/8).

House To Vote on Veto Override

The House is scheduled on Jan. 26 to hold a vote to override the veto, but the chamber is unlikely to have enough votes to do so. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement said, "House Democrats will sustain the president's veto" of HR 3762.

Still, Republican leaders said Congress' passage of the bill makes it easier for them to repeal the ACA in the future. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pledged to try to repeal the ACA again in 2017, noting, "We have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare ... So, next year, if we're sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law" (Rampton/Cornwell, Reuters, 1/8). He added, "Obamacare will be gone ... It's just a matter of time" (AP/Los Angeles Times, 1/8).

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