Can the House’s strategy on Obamacare actually work?
Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of the Continuing Resolution. That version, which was not much different than the House’s original version, included funding for Obamacare. However, it also limited certain funding. From Tea Party Patriots’ take on the House bill from last week:
According to a source on Capitol Hill, none of President Obama’s FY 2013 appropriations requests for implementation of Obamacare were included, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not receive $1 billion for funding of the Act.
The source also said a cut of $305 million from FY2011 to FY2012 in the IRS’ budget as well as a freeze in all non-defense discretionary spending the House put into the CR), leaves all these agencies at last year’s funding levels and will leave many agencies without the ability to implement Obamacare.
This source’s claim is backed by a floor statement from Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who in opposing the House CR said:
Specifically, this bill will delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to begin enrolling participants in October. Without IT infrastructure to process enrollment and payments, verify eligibility and establish call centers, health insurance for millions of Americans would be further delayed.
On Wednesday, Kavon Nikrad argued on USA TODAY’s website that the House did more than just delay Obamacare – its strategy may actually lead to the law’s destruction:
…[T]he House of Representatives continued another approach, a back door that could slow or undermine the law’s implementation with small cuts unlikely to spark a confrontation. The House passed a continuing resolution intended to keep the government running through September. Many conservatives balked because the measure’s funding for health care reform looks like a win for President Obama. However that’s not the whole story.
Kavon concluded this strategy is unlikely to work, given how far along the law’s implementation has moved. But he doesn’t dismiss it entirely, given what damage could be done by simply delaying full implementation:
Instead of repealing ObamaCare, an unlikely event with a Democratic Senate, Republicans aim to bleed it to death. The move fits with a pattern the GOP has followed since the law passed in 2010.
Even as Republicans fail over and over again in high-profile efforts to simply destroy ObamaCare, they are succeeding with delaying tactics that may combine to turn the law’s implementation into a fiasco.
Over half of the states have decided to let the federal government take charge of the ACA’s state-based health care exchanges. This means the federal government is responsible for implementing 26 different exchanges by January 2014, something it has been unsuccessfully scrambling to prepare for.
Before the House denied the IRS funding for ObamaCare, Republicans had also cut back its budget in 2011 and 2012 so the agency’s ability to shift resources to spend on preparing for ObamaCare is even more constrained. There have been cuts in other agencies as well.
Even delays that don’t damage ObamaCare could give Republicans time to make more small cuts or even destroy it altogether. While the mandate forcing individuals to buy health insurance survived the Supreme Court, there is another mandate that requires all health plans to cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilizations. If this case reaches the Supreme Court and the mandate is overturned, Obama’s signature accomplishment would suffer another blow.
And the more chaos that can be sown in ObamaCare’s early days, the more Republicans during the 2014 elections can tell voters that they were right all along.
It has long been the position of Tea Party Patriots that more aggressive tactics are better when it comes to overturning Obamacare. After all, the future is uncertain – many conservatives “knew” President Obama would lose in November, thus negating any need to fight tooth-and-nail against the law. Many of us thought the Supreme Court would overturn the law, and that also did not happen.
Kavon may not be right, but the law does appear to be sagging barely three years after passage and less than a year before full implementation. Will it collapse under its own weight regardless of what opponents do? Will the House’s efforts speed up this necessary process? Or should repeal of Obamacare be a negotiating point in the debt ceiling debate coming up in May?