GOP Plans To Target ACA; Obama Calls Some Issues Non-Negotiable
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- who is expected to become majority leader after the GOP won a majority of Senate seats in Tuesday’s midterm election -- on Wednesday said the Affordable Care Act was a "huge legislative mistake," but Congress cannot repeal the law while President Obama remains in office, the Washington Times reports.
Instead, McConnell said he would work to dismantle the ACA by attacking smaller, unpopular portions of the law, such as the medical device tax, the individual mandate and portions of the employer mandate (Howell, Washington Times, 11/5). In addition, Republicans could go after the ACA's Independent Payment Advisory Board, which has been criticized by both the GOP and Democrats (Viebeck, The Hill, 11/5). McConnell said, "These are the kinds of things that I believe there is a bipartisan majority in the Senate to approve" (Ferris , The Hill, 11/5).
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said targeted attacks on the ACA could gain some Democratic support. He said, "I think we are unified in wanting to repeal and replace" the ACA, but "[w]hat we're going to focus on, I believe, is ways to help strip out the most damaging parts of the health law that [are] hurting peoples' health and the economy" (Haberkorn, Politico, 11/5).
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) signaled his support, saying, "Democrats will work with Republicans if it's in a constructive manner to improve the [ACA]" (Radnofsky et al, Wall Street Journal, 11/5).
The targeted measures would force Obama to veto legislation that would alter or eliminate unpopular parts of the ACA. Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna said such vetoes would allow "the public to see the Congress in Republican hands is capable of producing solution-oriented legislation."
Groups Push for Full ACA Repeal Through Budget Process
Meanwhile, various conservative groups are pushing for Congress to fully repeal the ACA through the budget process, Politico reports (Politico, 11/5).
A legislative process known as budget reconciliation allows budget bills to be passed by a simple majority of 51 votes. Doing so would avoid Democratic hurdles that Republicans would typically need 60 votes to bypass (California Healthline, 11/5). However, Congress would need to pass a budget resolution in order to complete the reconciliation process, which could be difficult.
Long-term Republican members have urged a more cautious approach to the ACA, which already is providing benefits to millions of U.S. residents. Such lawmakers have noted that the ACA was not a main focus of their campaigns (Politico, 11/5).
Further, polls have shown that although most U.S. residents disapprove of the ACA, they would prefer the law to be fixed instead of repealed (Wall Street Journal, 11/5).
Even so, McConnell is likely to hold a full repeal vote as a symbolic gesture, though it likely would fail to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster (Politico, 11/5). McConnell spokesperson Brian McGuire said the senator "does support full repeal and will continue to push for it" (Ferris , The Hill, 11/5).
Obama Draws the Line on Health Care
In related news, Obama on Wednesday said there are some portions of the ACA that he views as non-negotiable, The Hill reports.
Obama said, "There are certainly some lines I'm going to draw," noting that he would not sign a full repeal of the ACA. In addition, Obama said he would not support changes to the law's individual mandate, adding, "You've got to make sure that people can't game the system and just wait until they get sick and try to buy health insurance" (Ferris , The Hill, 11/5). He continued, "Efforts that would take away health care from the 10 million people who now have it, and the millions more who are now eligible to get it, we're not going to support" (Wheaton, Politico Pro, 11/6).
However, Obama said he would consider "responsible changes" to the law, noting that he would "take a look" at measures to address the law's medical device tax (Ferris , The Hill, 11/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.