The repeal was not posturing, said U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, who voted in support of the repeal.
“Americans have told Washington repeatedly that Obamacare is not the kind of reform they want, and today we let them know that their demands have been heard,” said Gingrey, a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus. “We have a great deal of work ahead of us to provide real reforms to the citizens of this country, but this is an important and necessary step in the right direction.”
The 245-189 vote was largely along party lines, and cleared the way for the second phase of the “repeal and replace” promise that victorious Republicans made to the voters last fall. GOP officials said that in the coming months, congressional committees will propose changes to the existing legislation, calling for elimination of a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage, for example, and recommending curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits.
Like the repeal bill itself, these other measures will require Senate approval and a presidential signature to take effect, and the prospect is for months of maneuvering on the issue.
Gingrey said he thinks the 21 members of the Senate up for re-election in 2012 may reconsider their support for the original bill if they find their constituents are among those who want the bill repealed.
And Obama could also reconsider, Gingrey said, because “I can’t remember any president who only wanted to serve one term.”
Republicans said repeal was necessary because the law provides for a government takeover of the health care system, raises taxes and would destroy jobs.
Democrats denied that, and said repeal would strip Americans of new protections against insurance industry abuses that deny them coverage they have paid for.
The Obama administration has made a major effort in recent days to emphasize parts of the bill that have met with public approval, including one that permits children as old as 26 to remain on their parents’ policies if they do not have on-the-job coverage of their own.
Gingrey said that program would be included in any future reform.
“We think it’s a good provision,” Gingrey said. “The reason it’s a good provision was that (the health care bill) was so onerous and such a job destroyer that the young people couldn’t find jobs, and they are living at home with mom and dad.”
The law faces another challenge, well beyond the reach of Obama’s veto pen.
Georgia is among more than half the states that have joined in lawsuits against the bill, and while some judges have upheld the legislation, one recently ruled it was unconstitutional to require individuals to purchase insurance. The Supreme Court is widely expected to have the final word.
Staff writer Kim Sloan contributed to this report.