President Barack Obama has vetoed legislation that would have repealed much of Obamacare and defunded Planned Parenthood. It is the first time the president has used his power of veto to defend his signature healthcare legislation.
“This legislation would not only repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, but would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America,” Obama wrote members of the House in a letter.
Earlier on Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the legislation and sent it to the president’s desk. The measure passed by a vote of 240 to 181, with just one Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson (Minneapolis) voting in favor. Three Republicans voted against the measure.
“We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth: ObamaCare doesn’t work,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said at the time of the vote, according to The Hill.
With the president’s veto on the books, however, Congress can override the veto only by a two-thirds majority in each chamber.
If passed into the law, the bill would have dismantled the healthcare law’s key pillars, including requirements that most people obtain coverage, and that larger employers offer insurance to workers. It would also have eliminated the expansion of Medicaid coverage to lower-income people and the government’s subsidies for many who buy policies on the newly created insurance marketplaces. Additionally, it would end taxes which the law imposed to cover its costs.
Republicans argued the health law has driven up costs and hurt consumers, and they promised “patient-centered” solutions in its place. Ryan told reporters the House would come up with its own plan this year but hedged when asked when the GOP would ever vote on a replacement to Obamacare.
“Nothing’s been decided yet,” Ryan said, reported the Associated Press. “Just wait.”
Democrats denounced the measure on the House floor, arguing that roughly 16 million people were enrolled in the Obamacare programs, and that the repeal measure would likely result in about 22 million fewer people having healthcare in 2017, quoting data from analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.
The bill would have terminated the roughly $450 million in federal dollars that annually go to Planned Parenthood, which makes up about a third of its budget. The healthcare service is a target of Republican attacks over its abortion services, as well as a recent scandal over providing fetal tissue for research.
The repeal legislation was passed by the Senate through a fast-track process known as reconciliation, despite previous efforts by Democrats to filibuster the bill.