The voters sneeze and health care reform catches pneumonia — again.
Less than a year after passage of the mammoth Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, newly elected congressional Republicans said this week they’re moving ahead with plans to either repeal the measure outright or chip away at its most controversial parts, including the money needed to make it work.
Even the law’s supporters acknowledge changes are likely, virtually guaranteeing another round of arguments in 2011 over health care.
“The debate will rage on,” predicted Tom Bowser, outgoing head of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. “We’re going to see political theater big-time.”
Incoming House Republicans Vicky Hartzler and Kevin Yoder provided a preview of the show this week by repeating their support for repealing the law, which they call Obamacare.
“Constituents in this district did not support the government takeover of health care,” Yoder said Wednesday.
Hartzler said “it is time to listen to the people and repeal this onerous law in favor of common sense reforms.”
The House is widely expected to consider and pass a bill repealing the entire health care reform act in the first weeks of the 112th Congress in January. That repeal measure, though, will almost certainly die in the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats.
The deadlock will then likely give way to legislative combat over specific parts of the bill, including the tax money needed to make it work. That, in turn, could force disputes on spending bills, which could lead to a government shutdown.
But the major argument next year may be joined over the bill’s most unpopular requirement — that almost all Americans carry health insurance. In a McClatchy-Marist poll released this week, only 29 percent of those surveyed wanted to keep the individual mandate, while 65 percent called the requirement unconstitutional.
Those results mirror Missouri’s 71 percent rejection of the individual mandate in August.
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