With less than two weeks remaining in the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, House members from Western North Carolina voted to fully repeal the legislation aimed at reforming the American health-care system.

Reps. Patrick McHenry, Mark Meadows and Virginia Foxx all cast votes in favor of H.R. 596, which would fully repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health law.

The vote, which passed in a 239-186 roll call on Tuesday, faces unlikely passage in the Senate and guarantee of a veto were it to reach the president’s desk. It marked the 56th time House Republicans voted to roll back an element of the law and the fourth time they voted in favor of a full repeal of the law in its entirety.

In addition, it was the first time House members had voted on a full repeal of the law since last year’s initial enrollment period, which saw more than 357,000 North Carolinians select plans. Across the country, it has provided coverage options for more than 9.9 million Americans.

U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) represents the 10th District.
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) represents the 10th District.

In an emailed statement, McHenry emphasized his commitment to seeing that the law be repealed. McHenry represents the state’s 10th Congressional District, which includes the eastern portions of Asheville and Buncombe County.

“Obamacare has cancelled policies, driven up costs and led to inferior care for people throughout the 10th District,” the congressman said. “It is bad policy, and I remain committed to repealing it and replacing it with true healthcare reform that brings down costs and improves care. Passage of H.R. 596 does just that while also mandating the House produce a replacement should it be signed into law.”

Although McHenry acknowledged the bill’s instructions for a replacement of the Affordable Care Act to be developed should the law be killed, the congressman left unsaid that no concrete plans are in place for what a replacement would look like.

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) represents the 11th District
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) represents the 11th District

Meadows said his vote had reflected the wishes of constituents in the 11th Congressional District, which stretches from a portion of Buncombe County to the state’s westernmost border.

Meadows said he was “proud” of his position on repeal.

“The American people sent a clear message to the their leaders in Washington on election day,” Meadows said in an emailed statement. “Republicans won historic victories by running on a platform that promised to repeal and replace the disastrous law. It is our duty to keep our promises to voters by voting for this laws repeal.”

The congressman also cited concerns with the law’s cost to taxpayers—a figure totaling approximately $1.38 trillion over a decade, according to a Reuters report.

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) represents the 5th District, which includes Boone and Watauga County
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) represents the 5th District, which includes Boone and Watauga County

Foxx, who represents a small portion of Western North Carolina in the state’s 5th Congressional District, said the law had increased both barriers to care.

“[Obamacare] is causing real harm to our citizens and to our economy, and I will continue to support repealing this ill-conceived law and replacing it with policies that empower patients and promote access to affordable healthcare options,” she said.

The deadline for the open enrollment period for 2015 coverage under the Affordable Care Act is Feb. 15, unless the applicant qualifies for a special enrollment period.

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James Harrison is a contributing reporter with Carolina Public Press. Reach him at jharrison@carolinapublicpress.org.

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