This was a vote on final passage of legislation effectively defunding the landmark 2010 health care reform law that expanded health insurance coverage to 31 million previously uninsured Americans, and prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. The health care law also imposed a requirement that most Americans have health insurance. Employers with more than 50 workers were required to provide health insurance for their employees. The health care reform measure added 15 million people to the Medicaid rolls, and subsidized the purchase of private health insurance coverage for low- and middle-income people. In addition, the health care law imposed a 40% tax on high-cost insurance plans -- or those plans that are worth more than $27,500 for families, and $10,200 for individuals.
Technically, this vote was on an “enrollment correction resolution.” Such resolutions are generally used for making technical changes to previously passed legislation. In this case, the enrollment correction added legislative language defunding the health care reform law to a recently passed government-funding bill. During negotiations on the government-funding bill, Senate Democrats agreed to hold an up-or-down vote on repealing the health care law. Specifically, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed to bring up this enrollment correction resolution for an up-or-down vote after it had passed the House.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) supported the measure: “As our nation's reckless fiscal policy brings us ever closer to a tipping point, respected economists across the country have stressed the need for Congress to reduce federal spending and contain our mounting health costs. Rather than tackle these problems that threaten the long-term stability of our nation, the new health care law exacerbates our fiscal crisis by creating an open-ended entitlement and introducing $2.6 trillion in new federal spending….Total health care spending in the U.S. already consumes 17.3 percent of GDP [gross domestic product], the largest of any industrialized nation. Under the new law, national health care spending will approach 20 percent of GDP by the end of the decade….Only in Washington will people claim that spending $2.6 trillion and dramatically expanding the size and scope of the federal government is good for our nation's fiscal health.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) opposed the measure: “I find it hard to believe that at this moment in time the Republicans are suggesting we should repeal health care reform….wiping the slate clean and repealing health care reform would be a step backward for America. It would acknowledge that the 60 million uninsured Americans will have their ranks swell from others who can't afford to pay for health insurance and certainly can't buy good-quality health insurance today. I encourage my colleagues to vote no on this amendment to repeal health care reform. We don't need to leave so many American families vulnerable, but we do need to have protections against health insurance companies which too often discriminate against those who need protection the most.”
The Senate rejected this resolution by a vote of 47-53. All 47 Republicans voted “yea.” All 53 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected legislation effectively defunding the landmark 2010 health care reform law that expanded health insurance coverage to 31 million previously uninsured Americans, and prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.