The Senate Commerce committee voted Monday to overturn a key part of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, a measure that would have required consumers to buy insurance in some states that don’t have it.
The Commerce Department said in a statement Monday that the legislation, known as the Healthcare Freedom Act, would “give consumers the choice to purchase coverage from qualified companies across the country.”
The decision marks the end of a battle that lasted almost a year and a half.
Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.
Va., said in December that he believed consumers would “choose to purchase health insurance across the board” under the bill.
The Senate narrowly passed the legislation last year but Republicans in the House rejected it, saying the plan did not meet their health care requirements.
Republicans have not said whether they plan to take up the measure again.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who opposed the bill, said he thinks consumers would ultimately be able to buy coverage across the state lines.
“If they did, they would be able, as they’re now, to do it in their own state,” Johnson said.
“If they didn’t, they could get coverage from an interstate carrier.”
Rockefeller said the administration “had no choice” but to go forward with the bill in order to protect consumers, which he said was necessary to prevent states from passing legislation that would force them to sell insurance in more states.
The House passed a similar repeal bill last month but the Senate voted to override a veto by Obama and sign it into law without any Democratic votes.
The measure would have taken effect Jan. 1.
The decision means that the Congressional Budget Office expects the House-passed repeal bill to lose support from the Senate.