Repealing National Health Care Reform
By Deirdre Savage
While the rhetoric may be more tempered than a few weeks ago, the passion and commitment to repeal national health care reform started anew last week for the 112th Congressional Session. A recent poll by Quinnipiac University has nearly identical percentages saying health care reform is both the best (26%) and worst (27%) thing that President Obama has done since taking office. The health care debate is intended to draw on the divide while highlighting aspects of health care reform that lead to the negative poll numbers for the President.
On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, the House of Representatives by a largely partisan vote of 245 to 189 passed a bill that would repeal the health care law. This bill, however, is not expected to pass when and if it ever reaches the Democratic-controlled Senate. Additionally, a resolution directing committees that are now chaired by Republicans to prepare new health care legislation was approved on Thursday, January 20, 2011 by a 253 to 175 vote.
Both the past week's activities and those to follow in the coming months are part of an overall strategy to make Democrats—especially those that might face tough elections in two years—explain their health care reform votes, as well as make health care an issue for the White House. Oversight hearings on implementation will likely take place in at least three House Committees within the next two months. By March, expect funding for health care reform implementation to be threatened as part of the debate to keep the federal government running.
During the late Spring, the Appropriations process for 2012 will be underway. Expect 'defunding' efforts to take place during this time. The Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with significant implementation responsibilities and the Internal Revenue Service, which is charged with enforcing the individual mandate will be main targets for funding cuts.
Another full-blown repeal bill is expected in the summer before Congress heads home for their August recess. Truthfully, at this time, it's hard to say if the Republicans stand a chance of repealing or thwarting any parts of national health care reform. It's a complicated and long process - given the party divide in Congress and the need for both chambers to pass a bill—let alone have the President sign it.
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, we will continue to implement national health care reform and support our customers while keeping a watchful eye on developments in D.C.
This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your legal counsel regarding your specific situation.
Please note that this content is only intended to describe national health care reform requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). It does not address Massachusetts law requirements or the potential impact of Massachusetts law on federal PPACA requirements.
For purposes of PPACA implementation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts assumes the plan year is the policy year, unless an account notifies us otherwise.