Washington • Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat who opposed his party's health care reform law last year, said Thursday he doesn't support the Republican effort to overturn it.
Republicans now control the House and plan a vote Wednesday to repeal the entire health care bill. With 242 GOP members, it's likely to pass the House but end up dead on arrival in the Senate, where Democrats retained control.
Matheson says he doesn't believe a wholesale rejection of the law is the best approach, calling it a "show" vote by Republicans that contributes little to a substantive debate about health care.
"I mean, if you're voting to repeal, you're willing to get rid of provisions that I think everybody likes," Matheson says. "And the obvious example is, do you really want to vote to tell people and we all know someone with a pre-existing condition do you want to vote to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny you coverage just because you had that pre-existing condition? I'm going to tell you, most everyone I talked to in Utah didn't like that."
Matheson also pointed to a provision in the bill that would allow children to remain on their parents' health care plan until age 26.
Last March, Matheson joined 33 other Democrats to vote against passing the health care reform law, saying it was "too expensive, contains too many special deals, does not contain health care costs and will result in increases in health insurance premiums."
He said Thursday that his position against repealing it is consistent with his previous stance. Now that it's in place, Matheson says Congress should work to fix concerns with the measure, not just toss it all out.
"There are a lot of steps we can take to make the system better and that's a debate worth having," he said.
Utah's GOP representatives, Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, both support the effort to rescind the law.
Chaffetz said he didn't think Matheson can square a vote against the bill and then turn around and vote to keep it in place.
"There are parts of that I like, too, but by and large it is fundamentally flawed and deserves to be repealed," Chaffetz said.