House Republicans move on from repealing health law to replacing it

Having voted as promised to roll back the Democrats' healthcare reform law, the new GOP majority is now faced with following through on the second part of its "repeal and replace" pledge.

Fresh off Wednesday night's vote in favor of repeal, the House will take up a resolution Thursday morning directing committees to develop alternatives to the reform law.

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And the GOP chairmen of the House panels tasked with drafting those alternatives will offer an initial look, at an afternoon press conference, at their efforts. 

The work to replace the law will prove a far more unwieldy task than simply rejecting what Democrats passed.

Just how quickly Republicans plan to come up with their replacement is unclear. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said this week he does not intend to set an arbitrary timetable.

“I don’t know that we need artificial deadlines set up for the committees,” Boehner told reporters. “We expect them to act in a official way, allowing all of their members on their committees to be heard — Democrats and Republicans.”

Democrats have been hammering Republicans for voting to scrap a number of the reform law's consumer protections, including coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and the ability for grown children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, with no plan to replace them.

Less than an hour after the repeal vote, the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America sent a fundraising appeal to its supporters.

“This is a vote for insurance companies. There is no other way to put it,” the e-mail said.

It then asks supporters for contributions of $5 or greater to “help stop repeal before it is too late.”

On Thursday morning, the White House posted an item on its blog about individuals they say have been helped by the new law. The item focused on a North Carolina woman who went into cardiac arrest from a previously undiagnosed condition, which was not identified in the blog. 

The woman has stayed on her parent's health insurance because of the healthcare law, which the blog notes will also prevent insurance companies from denying the woman insurance when she turns 27. 

The party-line vote on repeal was 245-189, with three Democrats — Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Mike Ross (Ark.), each of whom opposed the law last year — joining all 242 Republicans in supporting it.

House Republicans will press the Senate to take up their repeal measure, but if the Senate does not, they have promised to fight the healthcare law in other ways.

Republicans will “do everything we can to delay and defund the provisions of the bill,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said this week.

Cantor noted that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had said the debate over repeal of healthcare would be a “political win” for Democrats.

“If so, let’s see the votes,” Cantor said.

Jason Millman contributed to this article.

This article was updated at 10:09 a.m.