KY delegation splits on party lines on health care repeal; McConnell pledges vote in Senate will happen

01/19/2011 07:31 PM

Kentucky’s four Republican congressmen voted to repeal the health care law Wednesday afternoon while Democratic Reps. John Yarmuth of Louisville and Ben Chandler of Versailles voted against it.

The measure cleared the House 242-189 with three Democrats crossing party lines to vote for repeal and no Republicans voting against repeal.

Among the six Kentucky congressmen, only Chandler’s vote offered any suspense on Wednesday.

Chandler had opposed the original health care bill that passed in March. And he is coming off a slim victory in the November election over Republican Andy Barr. Republicans already have pegged the race for Kentucky’s 6th District as a pick-up opportunity in 2012.

Chandler issued a statement after the vote saying he wanted to “repeal the bad and keep the good in health care law.”

“I  voted against the health care reform legislation last year and want to repeal many parts of this new law, especially burdens on our struggling small businesses and the cuts to Medicare and health services for our seniors and our working families,” Chandler’s statement said.

But he said he didn’t want to repeal the entire measure that includes other parts “that protect Central Kentuckians.” He cited several provisions including those that:

  • prevent insurance companies from dropping people who get sick
  • end lifetime caps on total coverage
  • require insurance companies provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions

All four Kentucky Republicans in the House — U.S. Reps. Hal Rogers of Somerset, Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville, Geoff Davis of Hebron and Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green — voted for repeal.

Guthrie spoke on the floor in support of the bill in which he questioned the long-term costs the new health insurance law would have.

“Further, the law prohibits states from altering their Medicaid offerings, essentially removing their ability to contain the rising costs,” Guthrie said. “We must stop this law from going into effect and further burdening our state governments and American families.”

Whifield also made a floor speech in which he said the health care law doesn’t adequately address the problems with the American health care system.

“We need solutions that are truly bipartisan such as incentives to bring highly qualified physicians and nurses to rural areas, allowing for the purchase of health insurance across state lines and medical liability reform,” Whitfield said.

The legislation to repeal the health care law is expected to hit a wall in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate.

But Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell issued a video statement Wednesday evening praising the House majority and pledging to take it up in the Senate.

“I hope the Senate will soon follow suit with a vote of its own,” McConnell said. “The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will.”

- Ryan Alessi


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