Senate vote clears path for ObamaCare repeal
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The Senate on Thursday passed an amendment to strengthen ObamaCare repeal legislation, clearing the path for GOP leaders to send the measure to President Obama’s desk.

The Senate adopted the amendment by a voice vote under special budgetary rules known as reconciliation. The procedure allows provisions that reduce the deficit to avoid the 60-vote hurdle normally required of controversial legislation.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion Conservatives could force shutdown over Biden vaccine mandate Freedom Caucus urges McConnell to block government funding over vaccine mandates MORE (R-Ky.) won over conservative critics by proposing to go significantly further than the House-passed repeal package.

Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzProposal to move defense bill running into new GOP objections GOP anger with Fauci rises Senate nearing deal on defense bill after setback MORE (R-Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio blocks quick votes on stalemated defense bill Wisconsinites need infrastructure that is built to last  Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall MORE (R-Fla.), who are running for president, and Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP sets back Biden's vaccine mandates amid omicron On The Money — Powell, Yellen face pressure on inflation Senate Republicans clash over government shutdown strategy MORE (R-Utah), complained that House bill was too weak.

The vote paves the way for final passage of the ObamaCare repeal package later Thursday. Once that bill is conferenced with the House, it will head to the White House for an expected veto.

It will be the first time after many attempts that GOP leaders have managed to pass a repeal of the landmark healthcare reform law through both chambers of Congress. Up to now, repeal legislation had always been stymied by Senate Democrats.

Democrats complained they were asked to hold a voice vote after being given only a few hours to review it.

With the amendment in place, the Senate bill would eliminate the federal government’s authority to operate health insurance exchanges and repeal subsidies intended to help people by insurance on those exchanges.

It would repeal an expansion of Medicaid adopted by 30 states and eliminate adjustment mechanisms set up to shield insurance companies from losses if they pay out more than they collect in premiums. 

The bill would also repeal many of the ObamaCare tax increases left intact by the House package, which had focused on getting rid of the Cadillac tax on expensive plans and the medical device tax.

The House bill repealed the mandates on individuals to buy insurance and on companies to offer it, but kept the healthcare’s laws exchanges, subsidies and many tax increases in place.

The Senate amendment repeals the over-the-counter medicine tax, the prescription drug tax, an annual fee on health insurers, the tax on indoor tanning services, and reduces the threshold of healthcare costs that can be deducted from 10 percent to 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.