Obama aims to shore up health law as 2nd-year deadline nears, GOP preps new repeal effort

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama gathered with beneficiaries of his health care law Tuesday to argue that the persistent effort to wipe it out "makes absolutely no sense," as the House was poised to take the first repeal vote of the new Congress.

Obama spoke from the White House Roosevelt Room, surrounded at a conference table by 10 Americans from across the country who wrote him letters about how they benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

"The bottom line is that the Affordable Care Act is not an abstraction," Obama said. "It's about people."

The House was voting Tuesday to repeal the health care law Republicans have vowed to undo. They'll also direct work to start on a replacement bill the GOP promised more than four years ago. The White House said Obama would veto that bill if it reached his desk.

"I've asked this question before. Why is it that this would be at the top of their agenda?" Obama said. "It was maybe plausible to be against the Affordable Care Act before it was implemented. But now it has been implemented and it is working."

The House voted more than 50 times in the past two years to repeal the law in whole or in part. Next week's vote will be the first for such a bill in the new Congress. It will also be the first time the legislation will go to a Republican-controlled Senate.

The legislation does not set any deadlines for committees to complete work on replacement legislation or provide any precise details on its provisions.

House Republicans promised in the 2010 campaign to repeal and replace the health care law.

The meeting at the White House also was intended to draw attention a coming sign-up deadline. Open enrollment through insurance exchanges closes on Feb. 15 for 2015 — the second year the exchanges are open.

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