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‘We can’t go backward,’ Obama warns on day of health care repeal vote

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 10:09 EDT
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With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives slated to pass a bill Wednesday night repealing the sweeping health care overhaul, President Barack Obama fired a warning shot to his adversaries.

“Today, the American people have greater health security than they did a year ago,” Obama said in a prepared statement. “Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans no longer have to live in fear that insurance companies will drop or cap their coverage if they get sick, or that they’ll face double-digit premium increases with no accountability or recourse.”

The president touted its other benefits, such as the small-business tax credits and the ability to stay on a parent’s insurance plan until 26, and invoked a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget that said it will reduce the deficit by more than a trillion dollars over the next twenty years.

The CBO projected the GOP repeal measure will add roughly $230 billion to the deficit by 2021 and leave 54 million nonelderly Americans uninsured by 2019.

Republicans dubbed the reforms “job-killing” and “job-destroying”: a claim that was contradicted by The Associated Press and economists from two nonpartisan think tanks.

With a majority of 241-174 in the House, Republicans seemed poised to push the measure through, fulfilling a core part of their 2010 campaign platform. Even so, it was expected to be dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate, and if it somehow passed, Obama said he would issue a veto.

Because of this, the White House said yesterday that it was not treating health care repeal as a “serious legislative effort.”

“So I’m willing and eager to work with both Democrats and Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act,” Obama added. “But we can’t go backward. Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing that insurance companies can’t deny, cap, or drop their coverage when they need it the most, while taking meaningful steps to curb runaway health care costs.”

With Republicans angling to shut down virtually all elements of President Obama’s agenda, any compromise on amending the measure was likely to be a fool’s errand for the president.

Though full repeal seemed destined to fail, the GOP was enlisting states from across the nation to challenge the overhaul’s individual mandate in court, and could potentially block funds for the law’s implementation over the coming years.

 
 
 
 
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