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It has long been clear that congressional Republicans are interested in breaking the health care reform law, not improving it. They've already attempted to repeal it entirely and a recent press release from Speaker Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8] describes, proudly, how the government funding deal that the Republicans negotiated "undermines" the law. Its a sensible strategy given that the Republicans don't have enough control of the government right now to fully repeal it -- if they can gut the law and make it fail, they'll win politically and, so the thinking goes, gain the influence to enact a full repeal.

But, unfortunately, the strategy requires killing some of the best ideas with potential for broad support since they may make people actually like the law when it takes effect. A prime example is the "Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan" (Co-Op) provision that would provide start-up resources for member-owned, non-profit health insurance cooperatives to provide competition with private insurers and potentially drive down costs. This provision, which has yet to go into effect, would be repealed under the government funding bill that is currently making its way through Congress.

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The Republicans' No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will no longer propose to redefine rape to block women on Medicaid from receiving abortions unless the rape was "forcible" or deny abortion access to incest victims who are 18 years or older. But it would still radically rewrite abortion laws in the U.S. by expanding the definition of "taxpayer funding for abortions" to include all tax deductions, credits and other benefits, even in cases where the abortion services portion of an insurance plan is paid for entirely with private funds. The bill is scheduled for a committee mark-up later this week.  

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Later today, the House of Representatives will vote on a bill to repeal health care reform, and it is expected to pass (UPDATE: the repeal bill passed by a vote of 245-189). But don't be fooled -- it is purely symbolic and there is no chance that it will become law. Here are three reasons why.

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Since the 1930's, the Amish have been exempt from paying Social Security taxes. The Watertown Daily Times, which is from a region of northern New York that many Amish families call home, notes that under Congress's health care bills, the Amish would also get an exemption from the mandate to have "acceptable" health insurance or pay a tax penalty if you don't.

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The Senate Finance Committee's health care bill hasn't been made public yet, but the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has seen at least some of it, and what they've seen could cause major employment issues from the same group of people that health care reform is supposed to help.

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