Post-midterm election, politicos, pundits and political scientists all agree that while Democrats no longer control the U.S. Senate, Republicans still can’t flat out repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
So the best strategy for the GOPis to “chip away” at the 600-page law as much as possible, hoping in the end to gut its financial underpinnings.
“The Republicans will have symbolic votes to repeal the whole bill, right,” said Richard Fox, political science professor and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Loyola Marymount University. “They have to do that because they have the majority now, and a lot of their candidates out on the campaign trail — although it wasn’t the number one issue like it was in 2010 — were out there sort of bashing this law.
“Now, whether or not the Senate votes on it or just debates it is a little less clear because they’d have to adopt a different rule because there still are probably 46 Democrats who won’t go for that.
“But that’s all just theater, anyway,” he pointed out. “Now they will definitely try to start picking apart some of the provisions of the bill, then taking them off one by one, and seeing if they can get a filibuster-proof majority on some of them.”
The Medical Devices Tax, the employer mandate of providing health care if your business has more than a certain number of employees and the requirement for every individual to simply have health insurance or pay a fine are prime targets, Fox said.
“The problem is the bill doesn’t become financially sustainable if you chip too many of them away,” Professor Fox told The Tidings. “When taken in isolation, there are these unpopular provisions. But they’re needed for the whole package.
“I mean, you can’t flat out repeal it. Some estimates are that like 25 million people now have health care because of this bill — some in private exchanges, some through the Medicaid expansion. So, are you going to strip that from them? That seems very unlikely.
“That just tends not to be the way U.S. politics and entitlement programs have worked,” he stressed. “And I think there would be a bit of an outcry on that.”
The LMU scholar also described the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to take up a new challenge to Obamacare as a “big story” that could bring down the whole health-care law. King v. Burwell centers on the legality of the federal government being able to give enrollees subsidies in 34 states that have chosen not to create their own insurance exchanges. (Approximately 87 percent of those enrolled in Obamacare receive these subsidies.)
“That’s a big story, actually,” Fox observed. “This [wording in the law] is something when you have a 600-page bill, if you had a sensible, cooperative government, you could just fix it. But we don’t.”