Senate Dems warn Boehner: Don't bother with healthcare repeal

The 112th Congress doesn't begin until Wednesday, but Senate Democrats are already vowing to block any attempts by the new GOP-led House to repeal the healthcare reform law.  

The Senate's top Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Biden's first 100 days is stylistic 'antithesis' of Trump The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (Nev.), wrote incoming House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerWhat's a party caucus chair worth? Biden's relationship with top House Republican is frosty Maher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' MORE (R-Ohio) on Monday warning the new GOP House against advancing legislation that would undo the sweeping healthcare overhaul. 

"The incoming House Republican majority that you lead has made the repeal of the federal health care law one of its chief goals. We urge you to consider the unintended consequences that the law’s repeal would have on a number of popular consumer protections that help middle class Americans," the Democrats said.

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Democrats said repeal would threaten the consumer protections included in the healthcare package, including the provision that eliminates the so-called "doughnut hole" in seniors' Medicare drug coverage.

"If House Republicans move forward with a repeal of the healthcare law that threatens consumer benefits like the 'donut hole' fix, we will block it in the Senate. This proposal deserves a chance to work. It is too important to be treated as collateral damage in a partisan mission to repeal health care," wrote Reid, Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinSweeping election reform bill faces Senate buzz saw Police reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Biden's internal polling touts public support for immigration reform MORE (Ill.), Democratic Vice Chairman Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (N.Y.), Conference Secretary Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBiden's pre-K plan is a bipartisan opportunity to serve the nation's children Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (Wash.) and Policy Committee Vice Chairwoman Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal Overnight Health Care: Biden sets goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4 | White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Can Cheney defy the odds and survive again? MORE (Mich.).

Democrats in the House, meanwhile, are already beginning to organize efforts to throw procedural wrenches into the repeal effort.

Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchAllow Medicare to negotiate on behalf of patients to lower drug prices Democrats push to add drug pricing, Medicare measures to Biden plan House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package MORE (D-Vt.) circulated a draft of a "Dear Colleague" letter on Monday encouraging Democrats to co-sponsor amendments they'll offer in the House Rules Committee seeking to protect popular elements of the healthcare law. 

"We intend to offer a series of amendments to their bill at the Rules Committee that will preserve critical provisions of this landmark law that have broad public support. We invite you to cosponsor these amendments," Welch wrote. "You may well have other amendments you would like to offer and we strongly encourage you to do so."

Welch is already planning amendments that "will preserve the elimination on lifetime limits, coverage of individuals up to age 26, the requirement that individuals not be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions and the requirement that preventive care be provided free of charge."

Republicans are expected to act quickly on legislation to repeal President Obama's healthcare plan, perhaps as soon as this week, in order to follow through on a campaign promise. 

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, promised over the weekend that House Republicans would hold a vote on repealing the law before the president's State of the Union address at the end of the month.

The vote on repealing the law is expected to be largely symbolic as long as Obama is in the White House and Democrats control the Senate. It would take a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override a presidential veto of the repeal legislation.

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The letter from the Democratic leaders may preview the messaging battle to come over the law. Democrats want to highlight popular provisions in the legislation that would be threatened by repeal, such as the ban on insurers rejecting coverage for pre-existing conditions.

"The 'donut hole' fix is just one measure that would be threatened by a repeal effort. Taking this benefit away from seniors would be irresponsible and reckless at a time when it is becoming harder and harder for seniors to afford a healthy retirement," Senate Democrats said in the letter.

But polls have found that other aspects of the bill, including the individual mandate to buy insurance, aren't popular with the public. 

"Maybe it's not ideal — it's certainly not communism," Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Democrats offer bill to scrap tax break for investment managers Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask MORE (D-Ohio) said of the individual mandate, according to the Toledo Blade


—This article was updated at 3:28 p.m.