Without much hope of success, the House GOP moved Wednesday (in its 33rd vote) to repeal Obamacare in its entirety.
At the moment, this move is largely a symbolic gesture and a promise for the future, but Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) characterized the vote as a move toward true repeal and replacement. His Democratic challenger in PA-11, Gene Stilp, portrayed it as mere distraction.
Lou Barletta was accompanied by all of Pennsylvania’s GOP Congressmen in voting to repeal the healthcare law. Although the vote did not make a difference now, Barletta said it is still an important step.
“Many of the freshmen were sent here because of Obamacare, because the American people didn’t want it,” Barletta told the Morning Call. “It’s not only for show, it sets up the November election…if we really want to repeal this law it’s going to have to happen at the ballot box. So it is important to let the American people know where their members still stand.”
However, some Democrats argue that it is still unclear where Republicans stand: the GOP has yet to present an alternative to the healthcare law.
Though the GOP’s own solution to health care in America is still forthcoming, Barletta says he at least knows what to avoid:
“We’re doing a lot of talking about how we are going to replace this,” Barletta said. “But what we’re not going to do is what the Democrats did and pass a 2,000-page bill that no one understood, including members of Congress.”
Stilp criticized what he called the divisive, partisan nature of vote, calling them, “votes for show that divide our country.”
“Just like 30 previous votes on the subject weren’t enough, Lou Barletta and the Republicans in Congress wanted to show one more time that they don’t believe the people of the 11th District should have reliable and affordable health care,” said Stilp, who conceded that the healthcare law is “not perfect.”
Stilp argued that Republicans should focus their energies on working with Democrats on the parts of the law that everyone agrees with.
As examples of universally agreed upon provisions, Stilp cited the coverage of those with preexisting conditions; wellness programs that catch diseases early, when they are cheaper to treat; and the provision for keeping older children on their parents’ insurance.
Barletta agreed with the notion of investing in wellness programs during a 2008 interview by the Pocono Record editorial board.
“We always try to treat the sick instead of finding a solution and try to keep people well.”
And, on his campaign website, Barletta says he believes competition between private healthcare companies, not regulation by the government, will reduce costs. Barletta recommends permitting interstate health insurance competition, ensuring companies provide health care for employees who work slightly less than full time and providing incentives for small business to cover all their employees.
Barletta does not address on his website how he would handle health care for those who are currently sick or unemployed.