KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

The Complexity Involved In Efforts To Dismantle The Health Law

The last time lawmakers repealed a major piece of health care legislation was more than 20 years ago, when vehement opposition to a 1988 measure providing new Medicare prescription drug coverage in exchange for higher income taxes led to repeal 16 months later, CQ HealthBeat reports. Polls are more evenly divided on the newest health care overhaul, and due to the law's unprecedented complexity, "efforts to unwind the measure are as fragmented as the health care system itself." Challenges in Congress, at the state level and in the courts appear to be gaining momentum.

Democrats "note that some parts of the law are popular." But the GOP has been advancing its own proposals that its members says will save money. In the courts, "[a] potential vulnerability of the law is the fact that it does not contain the severability clause often included in legislation to ensure that if a court strikes down one aspect of the law, the rest stands. As a result, some attorneys say successful challenges to the constitutionality of certain provisions could bring down the full law." Before the challenges reach the Supreme Court, individual states, "where governors and state lawmakers who have to implement major portions of the law will have wide latitude to interpret it," may be more empowered than Congressional Republicans to take action against the law (Adams, 11/29).

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