Obama Vetoes Bill to Repeal Health Law and End Planned Parenthood Funding
Posted on January 11, 2016
THE NEW YORK TIMES
By GARDINER HARRISJAN. 8, 2016
WASHINGTON â€” President Obama vetoed legislation Friday that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and stripped all federal funds from Planned Parenthood, writing in his veto message that the measure would â€œreverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America.â€?
Mr. Obama's veto â€” only the eighth of his presidency â€” was expected, and his decision to issue a simple message without holding a public ceremony indicated that he did not wish to draw attention to the showdown. Republicans do not have the votes in the House or the Senate to override the veto.
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But it shows that nearly six years after its enactment, the health law remains one of the most divisive political issues of the Obama presidency. For many Americans, the health law is seen as costly, cumbersome and a government infringement on freedoms, even as it has spread health coverage to millions and ensured popular benefits like ending lifetime coverage limits and the denial of insurance for pre-existing medical conditions. This week's House vote was the 62nd to fully or partly repeal the health law but only the first that sent legislation to the president's desk.
The White House has long expected that the fierce politicking around the law would wane as millions of people got coverage and other issues took center stage. But while some Republican governors have decided to take advantage of the law's provisions to expand Medicaid coverage in their states, Republican legislators in Congress remain persuaded that the law is collapsing and are determined to help it fail. Republicans also showed they could use arcane budgetary rules to circumvent a Democratic filibuster and pass repeal legislation for the signature of a Republican president.
â€œWe have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate,â€? House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said after the veto. â€œSo, next year, if we're sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law. Obamacare will be gone.â€?
In recent months, insurers have increased premiums and deductibles for many policies sold on the law's online marketplace, and a dozen nonprofit insurance co-ops created by the law have closed their doors after struggling financially.
In his veto message, Mr. Obama noted that under the Affordable Care Act, about 17.6 million Americans had gained health care coverage under the law.
Mr. Obama also objected to provisions in the repeal legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, a women's health organization that also provides abortions. While noting that federal law already prohibits funding for nearly all abortions, Mr. Obama said that eliminating funding for an organization that is a major provider of health care in the nation would â€œdisproportionately impact low-income individuals.â€?
Finally, Mr. Obama noted that Republicans in Congress have sought to repeal the health care law more than 50 times.
â€œRather than fighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families and create new jobs,â€? Mr. Obama wrote.
He then concluded, â€œBecause of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto.â€?