Votes are initial steps in potentially complex process to replace the controversial health reform law
FRIDAY, Jan. 13, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday afternoon to join the Senate in passing a measure to protect efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act from a possible Senate filibuster.
The Senate took the first step in the process early Thursday morning. The quick action in both houses of Congress puts Republicans in position to gut the controversial health reform law often called Obamacare. The House passed the measure by a 227-198 margin, with no Democrats voting in favor of it, USA Today reported.
Republicans have been trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act as soon as President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010.
Friday's measure calls for four House and Senate committees to draw up repeal legislation. Republican leaders plan to then use that language to repeal major parts of the law, according to The New York Times.
Although the GOP has said a replacement plan would be put in place as a repeal was under way, no details have yet emerged on what that plan might look like. At stake is health insurance for the 20 million Americans who gained it under the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans see the law as a sinking ship.
"This law is collapsing while we speak," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said Friday, according to USA Today. "We have to step in before things get worse. This is nothing short of a rescue mission."
President-elect Donald Trump said during a news conference on Wednesday that such a repeal would not occur without a replacement plan set to go, but he didn't specify how that would be accomplished.
During the Senate vote on what was largely a procedural measure, Democrats protested that millions of Americans could lose health insurance they had gained under the Affordable Care Act.
"Put this irresponsible and rushed repeal plan aside," said Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the Washington Post reported. "Work with us Democrats on a way to improve health care in America, not put chaos in place of affordable care."
Senate Republicans were just as fervent about their position.
"We must act quickly to bring relief to the American people," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Though highly controversial, the Affordable Care Act has several provisions that have proven popular with a majority of Americans. Those provisions include requiring insurance companies to offer coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions, and allowing children to remain on a parent's plan until age 26.
But it also requires all Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty, a provision that opponents of the law call intrusive government overreach.
Visit HealthCare.gov for more on the Affordable Care Act.