With Republicans In, What’s Next With Healthcare?

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OK, so Republicans are taking charge of the House of Representatives. The future of Obama’s healthcare reform is at stake.  So what’s going to happen next?  Will the whole law be repealed?  What about the courts, what position are they going to take and how will it affect enactment?  What about individual States and their enactment of the law?

Republicans will control the House but not the Senate, limiting their power to overturn the healthcare law. House Republicans will hold a vote on repeal, likely before Obama’s State of the Union address, and are set to win it.  Of course, it is also most likely the Democrats will block it in the Senate, and Obama will veto if needed.  It will be easier for Republicans to repeal parts of the law such as the individual mandate; however, Obama has said he would veto any bill repealing parts of the healthcare law.  It is possible Republicans will withhold money needed to administer and enforce the law.

A U.S. judge in Virginia declared a key part of the healthcare law unconstitutional.  U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson backed the state of Virginia’s argument that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to start buying health insurance in 2014 or face a fine.  A federal court in Florida is also hearing a lawsuit filed by 20 states opposing the plan on much the same grounds as Virginia’s.  Expect one of the two dozen lawsuits filed since the law was enacted to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.  For now Obama will continue implementing the healthcare reform while the court challenges play out, since the part of the law ruled unconstitutional, known as the individual mandate, will not come into force until 2014.

Many of the provisions in the healthcare law were given to the states to implement, which has set them scrambling to start programs or expand existing ones at a time when revenues are low and some are unable to meet basic spending pressures.  Only a few provisions gave them funds to hire additional staff or change computer systems. Adding to the confusion is the process under which the law made it out of Congress, known as reconciliation, which required lawmakers to use an early draft of the bill. By the time the law was signed, many of the legislated deadlines the states had to meet had already passed.  So, what’s new?  After all, quoting our soon to be former Speaker, “we have to pass the bill so you can found out what’s in it.”  http://bit.ly/fH5t1l 

Here we go, as expected, With Republicans In, What’s Next With Healthcare?

— Marty Hudson

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