‘Repeal and replace’ retreated
Scripps Howard News Service
When Republicans took over the House in January, it seemed all you heard was the chant, ěRepeal and replace.î It was a surefire applause getter at Republican gatherings.
But, as Jennifer Haberkorn reported in Politico, ěSix months later, they hardly talk publicly about those plans at all. And theyíre nowhere close to ëreplacingí the law.î
After repeated attempts earlier in the year, in the last seven weeks House Republicans havenít held a floor vote on a bill or amendment trying to ěrepeal, defund or even nick the law,î she writes. And the legislative year is more than half over. In fact, the only change to the law was repeal of tax reporting requirement for business that both sides and the White House agreed was too onerous.
Why in July has the steam almost completely gone out of an issue that was so boiling hot at the start of the year?
One reason may be the passage of time. President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Health Care Act ó notice that its critics are less and less calling it ěObamacareî ó and the sky hasnít fallen.
To the fury of the more zealous GOP backbenchers, the House leadership is less and less inclined to waste time and energy on health care revisions that face certain death in the Senate.
The White House bet heavily that as people became familiar with the law they would embrace some of its provisions and to some extent they have ó companies must offer the same premium to all applicants, they cannot deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions or place caps on lifetime coverage. Repeal of these measures, along with an improved prescription drug benefit, would not be at all popular.
The House Republicansí proposed budget showed what they would replace the health care act ó a slow phase out of Medicare in favor of vouchers to buy insurance on the private market. That proved to be unpopular, so unpopular that the people who disliked it most, those over 55, wouldnít have been affected by the change.
Republican state attorneys general and conservative leaning groups have challenged the bill in court with indifferent results.
Perhaps a telling indication of the fate of the challenge in the Supreme Court was a 2-1 decision upholding the lawís constitutionality by an appeals court in Cincinnati where the deciding vote was cast, accompanied by a strong concurring opinion, by Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee, former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and member of the Federalist Society.
Finally, all the oxygen in the House and Senate chamber has been sucked up by the battle over the debt ceiling and spending cuts.
ěRepeal and replaceî now seems so far away, more like an echo than a battle cry.