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Facing a Vote to Repeal Health Reform, House Democrats Retool Message

Members of Congress ascend the House steps of the Capitol before a vote on the floor to repeal the health care reform law. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.

Update 5:30 p.m. After the filing of this report, the House voted for the second time since the Affordable Care act was passed in 2010 to repeal the health care reform law in its entirety. The 244-185 vote Wednesday afternoon split largely along party lines, with five Democrats voting in favor of repeal.

Three years ago, Emily Schlicting, 22, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder for which she requires the care of a team of specialists, including a dermatologist, gynecologist, rheumatologist, ophthalmologist and neurologist.

At a press conference today held by House Democrat leaders, the recent college grad said that the provision that allows her the option to continue coverage under her parent’s insurance plan, as well as the elimination of pre-existing conditions, is giving her the ability to explore her career interests.

Instead of going straight to graduate school so that she could continue coverage as a dependent on her parent’s insurance plan, Schlicting, who graduated two months ago from the University of Nebraska, opted to come to Washington, D.C., to take a year-long fellowship in health care policy.

“I don’t have to use school as an insurance shelter. This wouldn’t have been possible without the ACA,” Schlicting said.

Schlicting is one of several people who spoke today at a Democratic press conference a few hours before the House was set to vote for the 32nd time to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act. Their aim was to highlight what health care provisions are at stake.

Even though a repeal of the bill is unlikely, Democrats are seeking to retool their message on health care, portraying the ACA as a vehicle that creates jobs as well as give Americans more choices for coverage.

“The support for it has increased,” said Minority House leader Nancy Pelosi. “This gives people the freedom not to be job-locked, and that freedom will help our economy.”

While Democrats say that the law will add millions of jobs, Republicans, to bolster their repeal efforts, are grabbing hold of an argument made by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. In last month’s ruling that upheld the law, Roberts said that the individual mandate — a requirement that all Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty — is constitutional under the taxing powers of Congress.

Despite the vast odds against the bill moving forward after Wednesday’s vote, some conservative voters support the repeal efforts.

Virginia voter Michael Tolosa, who describes himself as a Christian conservative and who last fall started up his own filmmaking collaborative for Christian organizations, doesn’t think the vote is an exercise in futility, believing that conservative lawmakers are obligated to act if their constituents oppose the law.

“It’s completely legitimate,” Tolosa said. “It’s important to establish the fact that they did try to do something. And they were kept from doing it because they weren’t in the majority.”

Tune in to the PBS NewsHour Wednesday as Gwen Ifill looks more at the House vote, as well as the implications for the law after eight governors announced their intentions to opt out.

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