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Groundhog Day invoked during health debate

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While Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Thursday in Pennsylvania — predicting six more weeks of winter — he  also was getting a nod on Capitol Hill.

In the debate over a proposal to repeal a key part of President Obama’s health-care law dealing with long-term care, Rep. Phil Gingrey, Georgia Republican, compared the troubled program’s durability to the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day.”

Mr. Gingrey said he felt like the movie’s main character, Phil Connors, a TV weatherman who finds himself stuck repeating the same day over and over again while on an assignment.

“My name is Phil Gingrey, but I feel like Phil Connors,” Mr. Gingrey said. “We have been listening to ‘Groundhog Day’ from my colleagues on the other side over and over and over again, and it is indeed getting just a little bit tiring.”

In an afternoon of debate Wednesday, Democrats vigorously opposed repealing the long-term-care program, known by its acronym CLASS, saying they wanted to trying fixing it while keeping it on the books.

Last fall, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius suspended the program, saying it wasn’t financially sustainable. Seizing the opportunity to erase a part of Mr. Obama’s health care law, Republicans voted Wednesday to eliminate the program entirely, with 28 Democrats joining them.

But some Democrats fought the proposal, telling Republicans they were leaving the elderly and those with long-term illness without adequate insurance coverage.

Mr. Gingrey told them they were beating the issue to death.

“We can do this for another couple of hours and continue Groundhog Day,” he said. “What part of ‘no’ do they not understand?”

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