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Congressional representatives in the region are divided along party lines about a vote planned in the House of Representatives this week to repeal President Obama's health care plan.

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said he will vote for repealing the law, consistent with his campaign promise.

"So I think it's important that this new majority pass bills that are reflective of the American people," he said.

But U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said he will vote against repeal.

Owens, who represents Hamilton County and part of Essex County, said it would be more productive for the House to focus on changing the current law to improve it.

"There's nothing I've seen the Republicans put forward that would alter my view," said Owens, who won re-election in November after voting last year in support of the health care law.

Gibson, however, said repealing the law is the first step toward replacing it with a better law.

Shortly after the House votes on repeal, a separate vote will be held on a resolution to instruct House committees to discuss aspects of a replacement bill and report their findings back to the full House, Gibson said in a recent telephone interview.

The vote on whether to repeal is scheduled for Wednesday, and the vote on starting discussion of a replacement bill is scheduled for Thursday, said Stephanie Valle, a spokeswoman for Gibson.

Gibson, during his election campaign, said the health care bill should be repealed and replaced simultaneously.

Gibson said he would still prefer that repeal and replacement be simultaneous.

"So while I'm disappointed that I don't have repeal-and-replace simultaneously, I'm encouraged that I've got a House resolution that I'm going to be able to support that's instructing committees on the principles for a replacement bill," he said.

Owens, who represents Hamilton County and part of Essex County (as well as all or part of nine other counties), said he spoke with hospital CEOs and read expert reports before he voted for the bill last year.

"There's nothing that people have proposed from the other side that's going to, in fact, improve health care results or decrease costs," he said.

Owens said the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan financial analysis agency, estimated the health care bill will reduce the federal deficit by $230 billion over 10 years.

Repealing the bill would reverse those savings, he said.

Gibson questioned the accuracy of the Congressional Budget Office estimate.

"So it had to do with the way that the bill was scored. There was double counting of savings," Gibson said.

Some view the upcoming vote on repeal in the Republican-controlled House as merely a political statement, since Democratic leaders in the Senate are expected to block a vote on repeal from coming to the floor.

Owens said Democrats and Republicans set a tone for compromise in December, when a tax cut deal was enacted.

"Now, instead of going through and having a meaningful discussion about what areas Republicans would like to see changed and potentially improved in the bill, they're going after a full repeal, which looks like mostly political theater," he said.

Gibson said it's important for House Republicans to fulfill campaign promises to vote to repeal the law.


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