By Ed Tibbetts
There might be no other issue that better exposes the partisan lines between the area’s congressional delegation than the health care law, and it was on full display Wednesday.
Reps. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, cast opposite votes on whether to repeal the law, the 31st time the House has voted to undercut the legislation.
And Schilling and Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who have worked together lately on a range of issues, had decidedly different takes on the new law’s impact — and the drive to repeal it. Loebsack also voted against the repeal.
“Iowans are sick of more politics as usual while families continue to struggle,” Loebsack said after the vote. “It is time to focus on jobs and getting our economy back on track, rather than taking away coverage from children with pre-existing conditions, reopening the Medicare doughnut hole and allowing insurance companies to charge women higher premiums simply because they’re female.”
The House voted 244 to 185 to repeal. The vote was along party lines, with just five Democrats going along with the Republicans. That’s all the farther the issue likely is to go. The Senate already has said it won’t take up the repeal of the law, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
Schilling, who spoke on the floor about the issue Tuesday night, said after the vote the law is hurting the economy.
“The wait on health care reform’s constitutionality is over, but the uncertainty remains for folks across the country,” he said. “Workers are unsure of how this will change their current health-care plans or impact their employment, and business owners are unsure of what complying with the law will cost them in time and resources. Meanwhile, health-care costs continue to rise.”
Braley had a more personal take. He said his 5-year-old nephew, Tucker, successfully battled liver cancer when he was 2 because his family had health insurance. But he added the boy’s parents were afraid of losing their jobs and not being able to get coverage for him again because of his pre-existing condition.
“The health-care reform law ended those fears, but repealing the law would roll back this important reform and many more,” Braley said. “Iowans can’t afford to go back to where we started.”
Loebsack’s Republican rival in the fall election, meanwhile, criticized his vote.
“The Affordable Healthcare Act does nothing to rein in the accelerating cost of health care,” Bettendorf attorney John Archer said. “It does nothing to deal with the state-by-state inequities within the original Medicare legislation in 1983. It does nothing to improve preventative care and healthy life decisions. And it does much to divide providers from the rest of the health-care system. In other words, it is not affordable.”
Democrat Cheri Bustos, who is running against Schilling, criticized him and other Republicans for carving out time for the repeal vote.
“We have jobs in our region on the verge of getting shipped to China, but incumbent Congressman Schilling and his friends are continuing to re-fight old political battles at the expense of the American people,” she said. “People are hurting, and what we need is leadership in Washington. Our congressman should be standing up for us, not simply falling in line.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the law has put the controversial law back in the public eye, particularly as the 2012 elections draw closer. Republicans say the only way to get rid of the law now is to elect them to office. Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping that continued GOP opposition will fire up their base of voters.