Monday, October 5, 2015

Obamacare opponents are starting to seem desperate

Obamacare's rollout has entered the homestretch. The new insurance exchanges are scheduled to open for business in just over two months. Three months after that, the policies they sell will take effect. At that point, every American will enjoy guaranteed access to health insurance regardless of health status.

Obamacare opponents are starting to seem desperate

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Obamacare’s rollout has entered the homestretch. The new insurance exchanges are scheduled to open for business in just over two months. Three months after that, the policies they sell will take effect. At that point, every American will enjoy guaranteed access to health insurance regardless of health status.

With the finish line in sight, opponents have become more strident than ever. Having failed to block the law in Congress, in the Supreme Court, and in the last presidential election, they are promising to throw everything else they can think of in its way.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to postpone the implementation of two key Obamacare provisions – the mandates on individuals to have insurance and on large employers to offer it. That marked the 39th time the House has passed a plan to repeal or delay the law.

On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner promised more votes “to begin to derail this thing.” He even held out obstruction as a virtue. He asked that Congress be judged not based on the number of laws it passes under his leadership but on the number it repeals. (Click here for a full transcript of his interview on CBS’s Face the Nation.)

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Then on Monday, Utah Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) took the campaign one step further. He threatened to organize a government shutdown unless Congress strips funding for Obamacare’s implementation. He claims the support of at least 13 other

Republican senators.

His position enjoys little public support. A recent United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll found only 36% of respondents favoring Obamacare’s repeal. A majority prefers either to wait and see how it works or to increase funding for implementation.

So, why the frantic last-minute effort to block the law?

Senator Lee may have supplied the answer in a clarification of his threat. He said it would not apply to popular parts of the law that are already in place – like the ability of children to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26. Not long ago, Obamacare opponents wanted to scrap those provisions, as well.

Apparently, Senator Lee realizes that people have reacted extremely favorably to major portions of Obamacare once they have taken effect. The same will almost certainly be true for the exchanges. The only real hope of gaining public support for blocking their rollout is to keep people from knowing what they would be missing.

As opening day for the exchanges draws near, the position of Obamacare opponents becomes increasingly desperate. And they are acting as if they feel way. Shutting the government if they can’t get their way would make the entire country suffer for their political failure. That’s a desperate move.

If Obamacare is as bad as opponents claim, they shouldn’t need frantic efforts to “derail” it. They could let the rollout proceed and then point to the shortcomings they had warned the public about.

Or is it the public’s likely reaction to the law once it is fully in place what really has them worried?

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Professor, School of Law & Drexel School of Public Health
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The Field Clinic reports and analyzes health care laws, government policies, and political trends that are transforming the care we receive and the way we pay for it. Read more about our panel of bloggers here.

This blog is produced in partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health-policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Portions of this blog may also be found on and in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

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Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. Professor, School of Law & Drexel School of Public Health
Jeffrey Brenner, MD Founder of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Medical Director of the Urban Health Institute at Cooper University Healthcare
Andy Carter President & CEO, The Hospital & Healthsystem Assoc. of Pa.
Robert B. Doherty Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs & Public Policy American College of Physicians
David Grande, MD, MPA Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Tine Hansen-Turton Chief Strategy Officer of Public Health Management Corporation
Drew A. Harris, DPM, MPH Director of Health Policy Program at the Jefferson College of Population Health
Antoinette Kraus Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network
Laval Miller-Wilson Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project
David B. Nash, MD, MBA Founding Dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health
Mark V. Pauly, Ph.D. Professor of Health Care Management, Business Economics and Public Policy at The Wharton School
Howard J. Peterson, MHA Managing Partner of TRG Healthcare, a national healthcare consulting firm
Paula L. Stillman, MD, MBA Healthcare consultant with special expertise in population health and disease management
Elizabeth A. W. Williams Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer for Independence Blue Cross
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