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House to vote on health-care repeal Wed.

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Wednesday on legislation to repeal last year’s controversial health-care reform law.

The new Republican majority is expected to pass the bill, called the Repealing the Job-killing Health Care Law Act, H.R. 2. The strength of support for the legislation apparently was indicated Jan. 7, when the House approved in a 236-181 roll call a rule governing consideration of the repeal measure.

Foes of the 2009 law backed by President Obama have consistently called for its repeal since its enactment in March. The opposition has been based on a variety of concerns, including its authorization of subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion.

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land continued his request for repeal in a letter to House leaders Tuesday.

The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) told Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor the reform law’s provision for abortion coverage is one reason for the entity’s support of the new bill. In a letter, Land said Obama’s executive order issued the same week the law was enacted and purported to prevent abortion subsidies “is insufficient to block federal funding of abortion under health care.”

Land also told the Republican leaders the ERLC is concerned the law “will likely increase the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars” during its first 10 years. He said the requirements for most individuals to purchase health insurance and for businesses to provide coverage “are burdensome and raise serious” constitutional questions. In addition, he expressed misgivings about the greater government involvement in health care.

The ERLC supports “health care reform that would preserve the private nature of our health care system while reducing costs, maintaining the highest possible standard of care, and ensuring that federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortion,” Land wrote. “Unfortunately, the [health-care reform] enacted last year fall[s] well short of these ideals.”

The repeal effort is not expected to progress beyond the House. The Senate is unlikely to approve such a measure, and Obama would veto it if it were to reach his desk.

Four Democrats — Dan Boren of Oklahoma; Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre, both of North Carolina, and Mike Ross of Arkansas — voted with the Republican majority in the Jan. 7 roll call.

The repeal vote is the first in a series that is expected to demonstrate how strong pro-lifers are in the House.

Rep. Mike Pence, R.-Ind., already has introduced the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, H.R. 217. Pence’s bill would bar Title X family planning money from going to organizations that perform abortions. That would include Planned Parenthood, the leading Title X recipient and the country’s No. 1 abortion provider.

Introduction of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act is expected soon from Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J. The bill would provide a government-wide ban on federal funding and subsidies for abortion.

Rep. Joseph Pitts, R.-Pa., plans to introduce the Protect Life Act, which would prohibit any federal funding of abortion in last year’s health-care law.

Rep. Dan Lipinski, D.-Ill., will be the lead Democratic sponsor of the bills from both Smith and Pitts.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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