January 24, 2011 / 2:54 PM / 9 years ago

Key Democrat warns on healthcare repeal bid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Republicans will be forced to vote separately on popular provisions of the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law if they introduce a bill to repeal it, a senior Democratic lawmaker said on Sunday.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as Gonzales testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice" on Capitol Hill in Washington in this July 24, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Senator Chuck Schumer, who voted for President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform, said Republicans would not be allowed to have an up-or-down vote but instead would be asked to vote on individual components of the new law.

“If the Republicans offer an amendment on the floor, then we will require them to vote on the individual protections in the bill that are very popular and that even some of the new Republican House members have said they support,” Schumer of New York told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program.

He cited measures that give seniors free checkups, increase drug coverage payments under the government-run Medicare program for the elderly and compel insurers to extend coverage to young adults on their parents’ policies as examples.

Republicans campaigned against the healthcare law, which includes a controversial measure forcing millions of uninsured Americans to buy insurance or face penalties, in the November 2 elections. They say it could bankrupt the government.

The House of Representatives, now controlled by Republicans, passed a bill this month to repeal the law. Getting the legislation through the Senate, where Obama’s Democrats have a majority, will be much harder.

Schumer predicted that a Republican repeal bill could end up having so many holes that it resembled “Swiss cheese” after being considered by the Senate.

“I think, at the end of the day, their effort to repeal is not going to work at all,” said Schumer, who is a vice-chairman of a congressional committee that tries to reconcile separate House and Senate bills.

Schumer, however, added that “there are places we can work together ... There’s still a lot of waste in the — inefficiencies in the Medicare program. And you can keep people’s good benefits and still get rid of those.

“So we should work together to improve the bill, but this idea of repeal is not going to work.”

Obama would still be able to veto any Republican repeal effort passed by Congress.

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