By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Almost as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, Republicans in the House of Representatives vowed to repeal the law.
On Wednesday, they made good on that threat.
The Republican-controlled House voted 244-185 to repeal the law. Five Democrats crossed party lines to vote with the GOP.
The New York City congressional delegation’s only Republicans, Michael Grimm and Bob Turner, joined their GOP colleagues in voting to repeal the law that the president’s opponents derisively call Obamacare.
The bill is expected to die in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats enjoy the majority of votes.
This was not the first time the House has tried to kill the controversial Affordable Care Act and the “individual mandate” provision requiring every American to obtain health insurance.
Republicans have pushed through a repeal vote before. But Wednesday’s vote marked the first time Congress members have acted since the court’s historic ruling.
Grimm charged that the law, which doesn’t go fully into effect until 2014, will hurt senior citizens.
“This law hurts our seniors with steep cuts to Medicare, does nothing to create jobs, and jeopardizes the care that many of New York’s families and individuals rely on. It is imperative that we repeal Obamacare and start fresh in order to work together on a bipartisan, step-by-step solution with common-sense reforms that increase access to high-quality, affordable, and patient-centered care,” Grimm said. “I have consistently opposed the health care law because of its economy-crushing taxes and steep price tag, which harm our businesses and do little to address the core issue facing our healthcare system — increasing costs.”
Democrat Mark Murphy, Grimm’s opponent in the congressional race, has praised the court’s decision.
“Today's decision by the Supreme Court is good news for millions of Americans who will now have access to healthcare and for small businesses choking on the cost of health insurance. It is especially good news for those with pre-existing conditions who were denied coverage in the past,” he said on June 28. “The Affordable Care Act is a prescription for healthier families and a healthier economy. I am pleased that the Supreme Court decided to renew the prescription.”
Grimm’s predecessor, Democrat Michael McMahon, voted against the Affordable Care Act when the bill came before the House of Representatives in March 2010.
Grimm defeated McMahon that November and won the seat in the 13th Congressional District of New York. The district covers the communities of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, as well as the entire borough of Staten Island.
Turner spoke out on Thursday, the day after the repeal vote.
“Yesterday’s vote against Obamacare is a vote against bad policy and a dangerous law,” he said. “It is a reminder that, in its current form, Obamacare will take $500 billion away from Medicare, will impose a tax on all Americans, and is a plan that will continue to become more expensive and increase our already historically high deficits.”
“The only way to prevent Obamacare from inflicting more harm on our economy is to fully repeal the current law and replace it with commonsense, consumer-based solutions that actually address the cost of healthcare,” Turner said. “Once Obamacare is repealed, we will have the opportunity to return to the table and develop a long-term strategy to healthcare that would include some of the common ground provisions such as eliminating denial of coverage for preexisting conditions, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance policies, and opening up interstate competition.”
The congressman continued, “Instead of being rushed through, Congress can take the time to receive feedback from everyone who will be affected by the law, address the dangerous and very real shortfalls in Medicare and Medicaid which were pushed under the rug in Obamacare, and create policy that addresses the rising costs of healthcare — an issue that was not addressed in the current law.”
The healthcare law enjoys the support of several unions, including Service Employees International Union, which boasts more than 70,000 members in New York State.
Mike Fishman, president of the union’s 32BJ chapter, said he’s glad the court battle is over.
“The real winners here are the tens of millions of Americans with no health insurance. With the legal battle over, our nation can focus on putting the Affordable Care Act into effect to provide affordable, accessible healthcare to the men, women and children who need it most. As the basic need for healthcare is finally met, we believe working families and the middle class will prosper,” Fishman said.
The union has endorsed President Obama for re-election.