All 242 House Republicans -- Plus 3 Democrats -- Vote "Symbolically" to Repeal Healthcare Reform

No shocker here: When the Republicans' bizarrely (and inaccurately) named "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" came up for a vote in the House yesterday, all 242 GOP Representatives voted in favor of it, even though they know good and well the bill won't make it through the Democrat-controlled Senate. (And even if it did, President Obama would veto it.)

And what about the Democrats? The left was not wholly unified on healthcare reform when the law was first being hammered out, but they turned out to be much more unified this time around, with only 3 Dems breaking rank to vote in favor of repeal. Those who voted with their Republican colleagues -- Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Mike Ross of Arkansas -- all opposed the law last year as well.

The "symbolic" repeal vote, as the New York Times called it, was merely phase one of the GOP's two-part plan to destroy healthcare reform -- the second phase being an effort to de-fund and/or dismantle critical elements of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual mandate, which would make the law toothless and ineffective. Both parts of the plan serve largely to take the wind out of Obama's political sails. We know this because many Republicans have been in favor of elements such as the individual mandate in the past (see Chuck Grassley, who was once part of the "bipartisan consensus" for the mandate but now calls it "unconstitutional.") Also, all but 8 Republican Congress members think government-sponsored healthcare is ok enough to sign up for it themselves.

The repeal/de-funding effort is also about Republicans bowing to the interests of the healthcare lobby, as The Nation's John Nichols points out bluntly: "[T]he new Republican majority in the US House of Representatives entertains no doubt about what must be done: the for-profit insurance industry must be restored to its 'proper' place as the determiner of who gets care—and how much they will have to pay."

Amid all of this debate, it seems that many members of Congress have forgotten entirely about the human consequences of healthcare reform. As Democratic Reps. Charles Gonzalez of Texas and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois told ThinkProgress, a healthcare repeal would have significant, negative human costs.

THINKPROGRESS: There was an economist at the Roosevelt Institute that estimated that 32,000 people would die every year if this bill was repealed. Do you think that the people who vote for repeal have a moral responsibility for the loss of life that may result?

GONZALEZ: We have to understand that there’s human consequences to everything that we do up here. [...] You’re talking about the daily lives of millions of Americans. The fact that there’s 32,000 who will not receive care and will die?! [...] And believe me there are many people who don’t receive timely care, diagnosis or treatment and die. I happen to know them. I’ve attended the funerals.

HINKPROGRESS: Do you think the people who vote to repeal bear a moral responsibility for any lives lost as a result of that?

SCHAKOWSKY: The United States already, more than any so-called rich country in the world, has more preventable deaths because of the lack of insurance. And to use the word moral is absolutely correct. [...] That has to be the consideration. This is probably not the time to say that blood is on your hands kind of thing, but I think people do have to consider consequences of taking health care accessibility away from people, and that some people, 32,000, will die because of that.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at January 20, 2011, 4:01am

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