Republicans Look To Use Majority For Health Overhaul Repeal, Plan Vote
Now in control of the House of Representatives, Republicans are planning to flex their muscles quickly to try to repeal the Democratic health law - but even some GOP leaders acknowledge it is unlikely they can get rid of the law right away.
CBS News: Eric Cantor, currently the House Minority Whip from Virginia, said "'Well you know, tonight's election is about listening to the people, and that was the message that's being sent across this land is they don't like this health care bill, and they want to see us focus on jobs, and there's just been no results that match the expectations of the people,' Cantor said. 'So I believe that when we take majority of in January, I hope that we're able to put a repeal bill on the floor right away because that's what the American people want. They understand that this bill is going to bankrupt this country and take away the health care that they - most people in this country - know and like.'" Cantor says health care costs are out of control, but that the health law is an "abomination" (11/3).
Republicans, in their "Pledge To America," have promised to repeal the health law and replace it with other reforms of the health care system. Kaiser Health News has text of that portion of the pledge (11/2).
Dow Jones Newswires: Republican efforts on the health law are expected to "bog down" in the Senate, where the GOP will be short of the votes needed to pass a repeal. "Some GOP aides cautioned that a final decision has not been made, and will depend on input from the full House GOP conference following Tuesday's elections. The real battle will unfold over weeks and months following that vote, as Republicans seek to block implementation of aspects of the bill. While they'll have to contend with U.S. President Barack Obama's veto pen, the GOP may seek victories on some low-hanging fruit like a $10 billion grant program for preventive care, or funding for research on the relative cost-effectiveness of treatments" (Vaughan, 11/2).
CNN Money: "Another complication is that some parts of health care reform already in effect are pretty popular. Among them are provisions forcing insurers to cover children with pre-existing conditions and allowing parents to keep kids up to age 26 on their policies. That's why congressional veterans predict more of a piecemeal rollback than a full-scale discard." In a GOP version of the health law "the states would get the funding, power and responsibility of extending health coverage to some of the uninsured. Republicans would also allow people to carry insurance policies across state lines." There wouldn't be any mandates or government-run insurance pools (Liberto, 11/3).
Bloomberg: "House and Senate Republicans already have written at least 30 bills to roll back provisions in the law. The success of some efforts would mean WellPoint Inc. and competing health insurers may escape regulations to set their patient care spending, while Boston Scientific Corp. and other medical-device makers dodge $20 billion in tax increases in the next decade." If Republicans are successful in repealing parts of the law, it could "set off a domino effect," a congressional analyst said. Health insurers, in the meantime, are saying that the mandate on Americans to carry health insurance is necessary to maintain consumer protections in the law or people will only purchase it when they get sick (Litvan and Armstrong, 11/3).
Kaiser Health News reports that Republicans will also use their newfound power as committee chairs to force hearings and structure appropriations bills - integral to funding the health law implementation effort - to their liking on the new law. "Key Republicans are threatening to withhold funding for overhaul initiatives and to relentlessly pursue hearings and oversight investigations to challenge administration officials' regulations and communications with the public. Committee chairmen have subpoena power, although holding the gavel is usually enough to get officials into the witness chair" (Werber Serafini, 11/2).
CNBC's NetNet blog interviewed John Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Alan Miller, chairman and CEO of United Health Services, about what the midterm elections will mean for health care. Goodman said: "The likely initial impact will be to delay and perhaps even defund implementation. All House Members face re-election every two years, but only one-third of the Senate does. So absent a marked change by some longer-term Democrat Senators, it would be difficult to override a veto before 2012." Miller: "I think the new Congress has the best chance in a long, long time to begin a national conversation on [medical malpractice] reform that will lead to real change. It's one of the more pressing issues that we face in the healthcare sector. Though it's been dealt with on a state by state basis in varying ways, for lots of reasons, tort reform has been overlooked at the Federal level" (LaRocco, 11/2).
The Hill's Healthwatch Blog: And Tommy Thompson, head of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, and a Republican, offered some advice. "[T]he GOP will lack the votes next year to repeal the law in full, so leaders should focus their energies elsewhere instead. 'When it's all said and done, you're not going to be able to repeal healthcare because President Obama is not going to sign it,' Thompson said during a Tuesday interview with CNBC. 'And they don't have enough votes to override a veto, so why push a cart uphill when you know it's not going to be able to get to the top?'" (Lillis, 11/02).
CQ Politics/Congress.org: In the meantime, abortion activism may increase after Republicans gained seats in both chambers. Laurie Rubiner of Planned Parenthood "said the debate over taxpayer funding for abortions under the health law could come back under Republicans. The group could also take a personal hit. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ohio) has sent out a 'Dear Colleague' letter announcing his plan to stop Planned Parenthood from getting any taxpayer funding, even indirectly through serving Medicaid patients" (Beckwith and Ali, 11/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.