* Democratic Senate certain to prevent rolling back of law
* Both sides jockey for position for Nov. 6 elections
* White House calls Republican efforts counterproductive
(Updates with White House comment)
By Thomas Ferraro and Donna Smith
WASHINGTON, July 11 The Republican-led U.S.
House of Representatives, on a near party-line vote of 244-185,
on Wednesday once again passed a bill to repeal President Barack
Obama's overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.
Just like previous House efforts to end the two-year-old
healthcare law, the bill is certain to be stopped by Obama's
fellow Democrats who control the Senate.
Regardless, the fight over the landmark law, which has
divided Americans and rallied the Democratic and Republican
political bases, will likely rage on into the Nov. 6 elections.
Five Democrats joined all Republicans in voting to repeal
the law, which requires nearly all Americans to obtain insurance
or pay a penalty tax.
House Speaker John Boehner and fellow Republicans scheduled
Wednesday's vote after a divided U.S. Supreme Court last month
upheld the law.
"We were promised this health care law would lower costs and
help create jobs," Boehner scoffed. "One congressional leader
even suggested it would create 400,000 new jobs. Guess what? It
didn't happen. It is making our economy worse, driving up costs
and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers."
House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said, "This is a law
that the American people did not want when it was passed and it
remains a law that the American people do not want now."
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi fired back by calling
the Republican repeal measure "a useless bill to nowhere" that
would hurt the "health and economic well-being of America's
Pelosi and other Democrats also ripped into Republicans for
having long pushed to end Obama's healthcare law while failing
to keep a promise to offer an alternative.
Democrats took advantage of the debate to highlight some of
the law's popular benefits, including allowing young adults to
stay on their parent's health plans until age 26.
The law also provides additional benefits for the elderly,
including free wellness checkups, and bars insurance companies
from setting lifetime limits on care costs.
By the Republicans latest count, this was the 33rd time that
they have passed House bills to repeal all or parts of the
2,700-page healthcare law.
While a few provisions have been eliminated or changed,
Senate Democrats have not permitted an outright termination of
Democratic Representative Jim McDermott mocked Republicans
repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act, as the
law is formally called.
"As a psychiatrist, I'm qualified to say this: One
definition of insanity is doing the same than over and over
again and expecting a different result," McDermott said.
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney denounced
Republican efforts as counterproductive.
"Casting these votes again and again and again ... does
nothing to improve the bottom line for middle class families,
does nothing to send a single 18 yr old American to college,"
Carney told reporters.
Democrats failed in their bid to attach to the Republican
bill a provision that would require lawmakers to surrender their
own taxpayer-subsidized federal healthcare benefits.
Voter dissatisfaction with the healthcare law helped
Republicans win the House in the 2010 elections, and they hope
it can give them a boost again this year. But Democrats are
fighting back, and both sides are using the issue to raise
The House Democratic campaign committee has begun offering
bumper stickers that read: "Dear John Boehner. It's
constitutional. Get over it."
Public support for the healthcare law, despite some
fluctuation, is divided just as it was in 2010. Neither side has
made significant lasting headway.
Some recent polling has suggested that the law is of low
importance to voters compared to other issues, such as the
struggling U.S. economy.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Tuesday showed
more voters than in the past saying the healthcare law will not
be a factor when they cast their vote in November.
Another poll - a Kaiser Family Foundation survey taken after
the Supreme Court upheld the law's constitutionality last month
- found that 51 percent of independents and 82 percent of
Democrats said opponents should move on to other issues.
But 69 percent of Republican respondents said they want to
see efforts continued to roll back the law.
(Reporting By Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Fred Barbash, Eric
Walsh and Jackie Frank)