Affordable Care Act repeal bill headed to Obama's desk

For the first time in the ongoing effort to appeal the Affordable Care Act, Congress will send a bill gutting the healthcare reform law to President Barack Obama's desk.

The bill, which passed the House 240-181 Wednesday after clearing the Senate in early December, is undeniably headed toward a presidential veto. Yet it does set a key legislative precedent for repealing the ACA if Republicans retake the White House in 2017, FierceHealthPayer has reported.

Forcing a presidential veto is also a symbolic gesture, Bill Hoagland, a senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Republican staff member on the Senate Budget Committee, told the New York Times. "This vote sends the signal to the president and the American people there are changes that need to be made in this law," he said.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had harsh words for Republicans' ACA repeal effort during a campaign stop in Iowa this week, Politico reports. "They're willing to turn their backs on 19 million Americans, to turn our healthcare system back to the insurance companies so if you have a pre-existing condition it will be hard for you to afford care," she said.

Clinton herself has rolled out a detailed health policy agenda, and with the rise of GOP candidate Donald Trump--and his unorthodox healthcare plan--it would be wise for Republicans to unify around an ACA alternative, according to the L.A. Times. For his part, new House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) recently promised a platform that goes beyond "vague platitudes," the article notes.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, however, have been successful in tweaking smaller provisions of the law, including the small-group market expansion and delays of some key ACA-related taxes, the latter part of the recent omnibus spending bill.

To learn more:
- here's the bill
- read the New York Times article
- here's the Politico report
- read the L.A. Times story

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