House Dems to stage hearing on reform law's protections

As House Republicans plan to repeal the healthcare reform law this week, their Democratic counterparts are staging a hearing on Tuesday where individuals will testify in favor of consumer protections included in the reform law.

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee is billing the hearing as the only one in which “parents of young children and young adults, Americans with pre-existing medical conditions, small business owners and seniors will have the opportunity to testify about the real-life effects of undoing critical patient protections.”

In the first weeks of the new Congress, Democrats have criticized Republicans for rushing through a bill to repeal the reform law without holding hearings. However, GOP leaders said that the 2010 elections, which brought a new Republican majority into the House, showed that the American people want the bill repealed quickly.

"Most people believe this healthcare bill was litigated through the election,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) during a press conference earlier this month.

The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday to repeal the law in what many consider a symbolic gesture, since Senate Democrats have vowed to block the repeal bill and President Obama has promised to veto it. After the repeal vote, Republicans plan to hold committee hearings on how to replace the reform law with elements favored by conservatives. 

In recent weeks, Democrats have been touting the reform law's consumer protections, which include discounted drugs for Medicare beneficiaries in the so-called "doughnut hole," new transparency requirements for health insurers and a ban on discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions.

A new poll found that Americans are divided over the reform law. Forty percent support it, while 41 oppose it, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll.