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Republicans Renew Effort to Dismantle Obama’s Health Law

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Utah’s Hatch Forced Into Republican Primary With State Senator
Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, heads to a weekly policy meeting at the Capitol. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Two top Republican senators began a fresh effort to dismantle President Barack Obama’s U.S. health-care system overhaul, attempting to succeed where other lawmakers have failed in trying to annul the law.

The legislation would repeal a mandate that most Americans carry medical insurance starting in 2014, Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said today in a statement. The insurance mandate is the heart of the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s purpose of extending health care to most Americans.

The Republican senators face an uphill battle with Obama’s Democratic party controlling the Senate. Two bills that Republicans in the House of Representatives passed to repeal the law in 2011 and 2012 stalled once they reached the Senate. The insurance mandate also survived a legal challenge in June before the Supreme Court.

“This legislation we are introducing today is simple: it strikes the individual mandate, so we can instead find ways of providing people with health care, but in a manner that doesn’t run counter to our constitutional framework of limited government,” Hatch, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in the statement.

He said the health law marked the first time that every American would be required to buy insurance even if they don’t want it. Alexander is the top Republican on the Senate committee for health.

Obama’s administration has argued in court that the government can’t require insurance companies to cover sick people -- another key element of the law -- without also requiring healthy people to purchase policies.

A White House spokesman, Bradley Carroll, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the proposed legislation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

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