(House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Photo/AP Images)

House GOP votes to derail Obamacare

House Republicans delivered on their pledge to try to derail President Barack Obama‘s health care law on Friday, mollifying conservatives who want to repeal the law that the administration promises will provide affordable health insurance coverage to millions of Latinos.

In a vote that fell largely along party lines, the House voted 230-189 to advance the bill that continues to fund government until Dec. 15 and would defund the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., defended the vote, saying that Americans are tired of seeing government spend more and more of their “hard-earned” tax dollars.

“This resolution will also protect the working middle class from the devastating effects of Obamacare,” Cantor said of the health care provision.

The House vote represented a major concession by House leadership to the its conservative wing. But it also was done with the expectation that the Senate would drop the measure from the stopgap spending bill that must pass Congress to keep the government running past midnight Sept. 30. The scrubbed bill will then return to the House.

Republicans held a rally after the vote to celebrate the outcome.

There House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the message his chamber was sending to the House with the vote is that “American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare.”

The vote is likely to become an election issue of importance to Latino voters because the community has the highest rate of people lacking health insurance. According to the Census, 29 percent of Latinos, about 15 million, were uninsured in 2012.

Members of the GOP said at a Hispanic Heritage Month event Thursday that the Affordable Care Act is having a negative impact on small businesses.

Latinos are opening businesses at three times the national average, according to information from the Small Business Administration cited by Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

“Health care reform and helping to lower the cost and make it available to more people is a good thing,” GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said at Thursday’s event. “But Obamacare was a bad idea in the offing and there were lots of warnings about the unintended consequences of it.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, who chairs the House Republican Conference, said Friday Obamacare is doing the opposite of what the GOP wants, to make life better for all Americans, including Hispanics small business owners.

“We want to get health reform right. We’re looking to defund the law and replace it with common-sense, patient-centered reforms that help all Americans,” she said in a statement.

The vote angered House Democrats, including Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.  ““Unfortunately, it’s the middle class who will pay the price for this mindless political game of chicken,” he said.

House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California said during the debate that the measure was designed to shut down government.

“This place is a mess. Let’s get our House in order,” Pelosi said before the vote. She called the measure “a wolf cloaked in wolf’s clothing” and said it would slash spending on the Children’s Health Insurance Program by 70 percent. Many Latino children have obtained health care coverage through the state-federal funded program.

Pelosi was later followed in denouncing the Republican maneuver by Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, who labeled it “blatant hostage taking.”

The White House said earlier this week that Obama would veto the stopgap funding bill if it were sent to him with the provision to end funding for the Affordable Care Act.

Insurance marketplaces where Americans can go to shop for health care coverage open on Oct. 1. An estimated 10 million Latinos are expected to be eligible to get their insurance there. The number does not count people who will qualify for Medicaid or who are not legally in the country.

Dr. Elena Rios, president of the National Hispanic Medical Association, said in the three years of the rollout of Obamacare people have seen some of its benefits, namely that children are able to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 and that insurance companies are prohibited from denying coverage a person has a pre-existing condition.

The law provides for free preventive care such as nutrition counseling and screenings, important for Latinos who have higher rates of diabetes and obesity, Rios said.

Republicans have crafted what they are calling an alternative health coverage plan that they have said would provide tax credits and lower the cost of insurance.

However, Jennifer Ng’andu, a health expert at the National Council of La Raza, said the Affordable Care Act is already set in stone and the vote comes as the country is on the verge of opening the state health insurance marketplaces.

“For Latinos who stand to benefit the most from the Affordable Care Act,  (the vote) symbolizes that there are people in Congress who are not looking out for their well-being and rather putting politics in front of the well-being of Latinos,” Ng’andu said.

A group of House members from Texas immediately sent a letter they signed to the Senate urging them to “continue the fight to stop Obamacare.  Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, referred to the law as an Obama train wreck.

“The House has been vigilant in working to repeal this government takeover of health care – especially now as we are seeing the adverse effects that the implementation of this law is having on business and families alike,” Flores said in a statement. “Now is the time for the Senate to follow the lead of the House and ensure Obamacare is stopped.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has acknowledged that the House measure was doomed in the Senate. But he also told NBC News Thursday that he was willing to filibuster a government funding bill that includes money for Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had joined Cruz in encouraging House members to reject any bill that is returned to them from the Senate without the provision defunding Obamacare.

Latinos are largest minority group in the country, numbering 53 million and making up 17 percent of the population as of last summer.

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