EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with the final vote on the legislation.
Members of the Senate have voted 52-47 for a version of a House bill, H.R. 3762, that would block implementation of major Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) commercial health insurance market provisions by killing a key PPACA funding mechanism.
The bill would also cancel the PPACA individual coverage mandate, the PPACA employer coverage reporting requirements, the PPACA employer coverage mandate requirements, and the PPACA medical plan excise tax. Another section would defund Planned Parenthood.
The Senate voted 90-10 to add an amendment proposed by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., that would kill the PPACA Cadillac plan excise tax, a tax on high-cost health benefits packages that’s supposed to start to apply in 2018.
All Democrats in the Senate voted against the bill. Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois, also voted against it. All other Republicans voted for the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor that the existence of PPACA blocks real health reform.
“Americans are living with the consequences of this broken law and its broken promises every day,” McConnell said. “Its negative effects are often felt in the most personal and visceral ways. And Americans are tired of being condescended to.”
The White House has put out a statement saying the major proposed Senate amendments to the bill would result in millions of individuals remaining uninsured or losing the insurance they have today.
More than 15 million people have gained health coverage since the start for the first PPACA open enrollment period, in October 2013, administration officials said.
“If the president were presented with H.R. 3762, as amended by the Senate amendment, he would veto the bill,” administration officials said.
Republicans got the measure to the Senate floor by drafting it in the form of a budget reconciliation bill, known as the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 bill.
Senate rules normally require supporters of a bill to have at least 60 votes to ward off the threat of a filibuster, or endless round of debate. Opponents of a bill in the Senate can use a filibuster to keep supporters from bringing a normal bill up for a vote. Opponents can’t use a filibuster to block consideration of a reconciliation bill.
The supporters need a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to overturn a presidential veto.
In the past, some Republican senators who oppose PPACA have opposed the reconciliation bill strategy, saying reconciliation bills could leave some parts of PPACA intact.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has been busy projecting how different versions of the bill and amendments to the bill might affect the federal budget deficit.
CBO analysts predicted, for example, that one version could cut the federal budget deficit about $296 billion over 10 years, and that another version could cut the deficit by about $106 million over 10 years.