Reform Law Overcomes Hurdles in Its First Year, but Obstacles Lie Ahead
The federal health reform law was enacted on March 23, 2010, making Wednesday the one-year anniversary for the overhaul, NPR's "Morning Edition" reports.
Background on Law's Passage
A year ago, Democrats celebrated passage of the overhaul, which they promised would extend health insurance benefits to more than 30 million uninsured individuals and change the way the U.S. health care industry operated.
Despite numerous challenges from Republicans and other opponents to the law, its support among proponents remains strong. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently said, "With this landmark law, we made health insurance and health care a right, not a privilege, for all Americans."
Meanwhile, opponents still are critical of the law. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, "It is one of the worst pieces of legislation in the history of this country," adding, "And it's not going to work" (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 3/23).
Congressional Obstacles to the Overhaul
Since the law's enactment, federal officials have worked quickly to develop new regulations and innovations for its provisions, provide states with federal grants and guidance, and implement a series of provisions that promised to offer a range of consumer benefits, insurance protections and improved access to care (Goldstein/Aizenman, Washington Post, 3/22).
However, they also faced numerous obstacles, including in Congress, the states and in public opinion.
Congressional and state Republicans during the 2010 midterm elections campaigned on platforms to dismantle the health reform law and impede its implementation.
In November 2010, the GOP regained control of the House, and Republicans made substantial gains in numerous gubernatorial and statewide races. Republican leaders in the new GOP-controlled House and Republican state officials launched numerous efforts to block the law's implementation, repeal and replace the entire statute, and defund it.
Republicans took the following actions over the year:
- The House in January passed legislation (HR 2) to repeal the health reform law;
- In February, the House approved a broad spending bill (HR 1) for fiscal year 2011, which included provisions to defund and block further implementation of the law; and
- House Republicans earlier this month also convened the first of a series of key committee hearings to develop legislation that would defund the reform law (Millman, The Hill, 3/23).
Republicans also pledged to focus on smaller revisions and alternatives to the law's existing provisions (Washington Post, 3/22).
Legal Challenges to the Overhaul
The Obama administration's main hurdle to implementing the reform law could be in the legal system. Nearly two dozen legal challenges have been filed in courts nationwide that question the constitutionality of the health reform law.
Three federal district court judges -- in the District of Columbia, Michigan and Lynchburg, Va. -- already have ruled in favor of the law and its individual mandate, while two judges -- in Florida and Richmond, Va. -- ruled against the insurance coverage requirement.
Although the five rulings are on a fast-track for review in several federal appeals courts, legal observers say the U.S. Supreme Court likely will deliver the final verdict on the issue as early as June 2012, a decision that could play a prominent role in the outcome of the 2012 presidential election (The Hill, 3/23).
For additional coverage of the anniversary of the reform law's passage, see today's Capitol Desk post.
Additional Coverage: Looking Back
Headlines and links to articles reflecting on the reform law's anniversaryÂ are provided below.
- "Analyzing the Health Law's Rocky First Year" (Kaiser Health News, 3/21).
- "As Health Care Reform Law Turns One, Some Clarity on What It Does and How It Does It" (Klein, Washington Post, 3/21).
- "What a Difference a Year Makes" (Cannon, Kaiser Health News, 3/21).
- "Health Care Reform Flounders a Year After Its Passage"Â (Ubel et al., Detroit Free Press, 3/22).
- "Gifts of Bogus Statistics for the Health Care Law's Birthday" (Kessler, "The Fact Checker," Washington Post, 3/21).
- "One Year Anniversary: The Incredible Shrinking Obama Health Care Law" (Zeese, Huffington Post, 3/22).
- "Happy Birthday, Affordable Care Act!" (Rovner, "Shots," NPR, 3/22).
- "Adding Up Health Reform, One Year Later" Â (Winerman, PBS "NewsHour," 3/22).
- "Pros, Cons Still Spinning Year-Old Health Care Law" (Von Bergen, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/23).
- "Health Reform, One Year Later: Tax Credits, Benefits, Work for Insurers and a Monster Federal Bill" (Sturdevant, Hartford Courant, 3/22).
- "Health Care Law's First Anniversary: Why Haven't Americans Seen Changes Yet?" (Khan, ABC News, 3/22).
Additional Coverage: Looking Ahead
Headlines and links to articles reflecting onÂ what to expect in the coming years are providedÂ below.
- "Year Two of Obamaâs Health Reform Promises More Political Fights" (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/21).
- "On Health Law's Anniversary: Predictions For Next Year" (Kaiser Health News, 3/20).
- "Birthday Blues" (DoBias, National Journal, 3/17).
- "One Year Later: Backers of Obama Health Care Law Preparing To Defend" (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/19).
- "One Year Down, Pollsters Handicap Health Law Politics"Â (Kaiser Health News, 3/22).