Obama vetoes health law repeal bill

President Obama on Friday vetoed legislation to repeal most of his signature health care law, saying the bill would do “harm” to millions of Americans.

The move was widely expected, after Republicans for the first time succeeded in sending an ObamaCare repeal bill to the president’s desk. The legislation that Obama vetoed also would cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

While Congress may try to override, Republicans do not currently have the votes to do so.

Republicans, though, say they met two goals by passing the bill: keeping a promise to voters in an election year, and showing their ability to repeal the health law if a Republican wins the presidency.

“This is the closest we have come to repealing ObamaCare,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday.

As the next step, Ryan wants to work on a proposal to replace the health care law. As he said in a statement Wednesday, the goal is to lay the groundwork for repealing and replacing the law should a Republican win the presidency this November.

“It clears the path to repealing this law with a Republican president in 2017 and replacing it with a truly patient-centered health care system,” he said. “We will not back down from this fight to defend the sanctity of life and make quality health care coverage achievable for all Americans.”

Though Republicans tried dozens of times to pass a full or partial repeal bill, they were only able to get this one to Obama’s desk because the Senate passed their version under special rules that protected it from a Democratic filibuster. The House followed suit this week.

Still, it takes a two-thirds threshold to override a presidential veto. In the House alone, Republicans are shy of that amount by nearly 50 votes.

In a lengthy written statement explaining his veto, Obama on Friday said the bill would “reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America,” warning that it would increase the number of uninsured.

“Rather than refighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families, and create new jobs,” he said.

Republicans argue that the legislation is harming the economy, and wrongly forcing Americans to buy insurance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Tampa couple stuck in Affordable Care Act red tape

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) By Shannon Behnken – Barry and Jane Elson are stuck in an insurance nightmare. The couple thought a plan through the Affordable Care Act was the ticket to affordable health insurance. But so far, they’ve spent hundreds only to have no insurance at all.

“We started to get rejections on all of our bills,” Jane Elson said. “The doctors weren’t getting paid, and the pharmacy said they could no longer fill prescriptions.”

First, they bought a Florida Blue plan in September. But their doctors’ claims were denied because of computer errors. And now, they owe thousands and face threats from collectors.

“Number one, they listed my husband’s gender as female and they had my date of birth incorrect,” Jane Elson said.

No one at Florida Blue or the insurance marketplace would help. Then it got worse. Still fighting with Florida Blue, the couple decided to go with a different carrier for the new year. They paid nearly $500 for a plan with United Health Care. They received insurance cards and then, this week, an email stating they have “no medical coverage.”

The Elsons turned to 8 On Your Side for answers. 8 On Your Side went straight to the state regulators, the watchdogs for insurance companies. The case is now under review by the state to find out what went wrong and make it right.

“This just turned into a huge problem,” Barry Elson said. “We’re just hoping it finally gets resolved.”

A state spokeswoman tells 8 On Your Side this should have never happened and promises an insurance expert will contact the couple next week to straighten out the issues.