In a "message" vote, the Republican-led House of Representatives elected to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. The move is considered symbolic, as the Senate lacks the 60 votes needed to avoid an almost certain filibuster, and the President has vowed to veto any repeal measure. The final vote on H.R. 596 was 239 - 186 along party lines.
The fact that this bill will not advance any further does not mean the Affordable Care Act will go untouched this legislative term. Smaller-scale bills that chip away at less controversial portions of the law are more likely to make headway. Last month, the House approved two bills that would exempt certain categories of employees from being factored into the 50-employee threshold that triggers the employer mandate requirements. The House also voted in favor of a bill that would increase from 30 to 40 the number of hours an employee must work to be considered "full-time" under the ACA. Repealing the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices is also on many lawmakers' wish lists. Today's vote, therefore, sends a signal that this Congress is not yet done with the healthcare law, now nearly five years old. Nor is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is set to revisit the ACA this term in the King v. Burwell case. The case involves the question of whether tax subsidies are available for individuals who obtain their insurance through the federal health insurance exchange. Oral arguments are set for May 4, 2015.