GOP House Takes Next Step Toward Taking Healthcare Away From Millions

With a vote largely along party lines, the U.S. House on Friday pushed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, one step closer to death.

Ahead of the 227-198 vote (roll call here), GOP House leaders expressed confidence that their chamber would pass a budget resolution paving the way for ACA repeal, “despite lingering wariness from the rank-and-file about proceeding without a plan to replace the health law,” as Politico reported. The Senate passed its version of the resolution in the wee hours of Thursday.

The legislation doesn’t actually repeal the healthcare law that’s delivered coverage to about 20 million people, but it does “clear the way for a subsequent repeal bill to advance in the Senate without the threat of a Democratic filibuster,” the Chicago Tribune explained.

Passage of the budget resolution in both houses completes the first step of what Wired describes as “Republicans’ three-step plan to kill Obamacare.” Next up: congressional committees will draft repeal legislation, with an ostensible deadline of January 27, while Republicans and the incoming Trump administration hammer out a replacement.

It’s totally unclear what that legislation would look like; regardless, any replacement “would require Democratic votes in the Senate to overcome the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold,” Politico notes, “and finding support in the minority will be difficult.”

But Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups are sounding the alarm, warning that repealing the ACA would curtail access to birth control, hamper the fight against opioid abuse, raise healthcare prices for seniors, and make some cancer screenings unaffordable—all while offering a major tax break to the wealthy.

In a tweet on Friday, the acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offered a rundown of the wide impacts of repeal:

Rallies and marches are planned to take place Sunday in more than 40 U.S. cities to gird against the looming healthcare cuts.

“The new Republican Congress has begun efforts to dismantle America’s healthcare system,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who is organizing the day of action along with colleagues Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—wrote in a recent call to action. “Their goal, consistent with their right-wing ideology, is to take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans, privatize Medicare, make massive cuts to Medicaid, increase prescription drug prices, and defund Planned Parenthood. It is up to us to stop them.”

On Friday, the registered nurses union National Nurses United (NNU) announced its intention to join the demonstrations. “On this day of action we are standing with our elders, our friends, and family, along with many of our elected representatives to say no to the Republicans’ disastrous proposals,” said Deborah Burger, NNU co-president. “At this moment of tremendous confusion about the future of healthcare in the U.S., nurses are saying, now is the time to move forward with Medicare-for-all.”

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