After Vote, GOP Not Done with Health Care Repeal Effort

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks through Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington Jan. 19, 2011, after the vote passed to repeal the health care law.
AP Photo
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks through Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington Jan. 19, 2011, after the vote passed to repeal the health care law.
AP Photo

One day after voting to repeal the Democrats' health care law, the House of Representatives voted to begin replacing the legislation.

The resolution that passed Thursday morning does not include any deadlines or mandates. It just tells four relevant committees with jurisdiction over health-care related issues to start working on it. It also provides some broad goals like making sure that the legislation fosters "economic growth and private sector job creation by eliminating job-killing policies and regulations."

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In the afternoon, the four committee chairmen told reporters that the work begins now.

"Today is Day One of our efforts to replace Obamacare with something better, a lot better," new Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said.

Upton said one of the first efforts his committee will take is to allow individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines.

"Competition does work, we know that, and we should allow it to work for health insurance as well," he said, before asking why consumers can buy auto insurance anywhere but health care is restricted to within a state.

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., said that his Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing next week "solely dedicated to examining the economic and regulatory burdens imposed by the Democrats' health care law."

And the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, wasted no time by convening a hearing Thursday morning on medical liability reform.

"Today, almost every physician in America practices defensive medicine," Smith told reporters. "The consumers, the patients, the American people could save tens of billions of dollars probably every year if we implement medical liability reform."

Smith also plans to hold hearings on the constitutionality of a key provision of the Democrats' Affordable Health Care Act that requires individuals to purchase health insurance.

Cost cutting, the Republicans said, is the major overarching goal of their replacement efforts. Republicans argue that Democrats focused too much on expanding coverage to everyone when they crafted health care legislation last year and ended up having to expand a government entitlement program, Medicaid, to do so.

"Obviously if we can get costs down, the opportunity to afford health care goes up," Camp said, arguing it's a more effective way to expand coverage.

The chairmen avoided giving numbers, however, on how many more people could afford health insurance under their plan. A preliminary Congressional Budget Office analysis based on GOP cost-cutting proposals released last year only estimated to expand coverage to 3 million Americans while the Democrats' law expanded coverage to more than 30 million.

Meanwhile, the Republicans started to take some heat Thursday for focusing so much on health care in the first weeks of the new Congress when they promised voters they would focus on jobs. Speaker John Boehner argued that the two issues are one and the same.

"When you look at the repeal of the health care law yesterday, one of the significant issues was the fact that it's destroying jobs in America," he said.

The committee chairmen were more defensive, saying that they won't be solely focused on health care.

"Just because we're going to be looking at the impact of this health care law on a lot of things, including jobs, it doesn't mean that the committees won't be actively engaged in other aspects of our responsibility." said Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline, R-Minn. "We don't have to limit ourselves to one subject at a time."

"It's not going to be just health," Upton said.

But when should this health care replacement legislation expected to be finished?

"We're going to let the committee process move us forward," said Kline, "not an artificial deadline that's out there."

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    Jill Jackson is a CBS News senior political producer.