In healthcare news, House Republicans advanced a measure this morning to abolish the tax penalty imposed on Americans who don’t purchase health insurance. The move by the House Ways and Means Committee followed a marathon 18-hour debate and came as Republicans pressed for legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, a broad coalition of nurses, doctors and hospital organizations rejected the Republican bill, saying in a letter to Congress the legislation would add to the ranks of the uninsured. The mounting opposition came as Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed passage, calling the repeal of Obamacare an “act of mercy.” That statement drew a sharp response Wednesday from Massachusetts Democratic Congressmember Joe Kennedy III.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III: “There is no mercy in a system that makes healthcare a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection—the elderly, the poor, the sick and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill. There’s no mercy in a policy that takes for granted the sweat, the tears and the sacrifice of working Americans that they shed every day so that they might care for their families’ basic needs—food, shelter, health and hope for tomorrow. There’s no mercy to the 2.6 million people who will lose their job if Obamacare is repealed. This is not an act of mercy. It’s an act of malice.”
The legislation also faces opposition from some conservative Republicans who blasted it as “Obamacare lite.” Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas predicted Wednesday the bill lacked the support needed to pass the Senate.