The November midterm elections were very much an opportunity for Americans to pass a referendum on healthcare. With the GOP gaining 5 Senate seats, 6 governorships, and a whopping 63 seats in the House, Americans clearly voiced their disapproving opinion on what the president and democratically controlled Congress had been up to. A recent Gallup poll (January 7) cited that 46% of Americans are in support of repeal, while 40% prefer to let the healthcare debate rest.
The original repeal vote was postponed in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, and had been scheduled for today. The vote has now been postponed again The bill is expected to pass in the House, as the GOP has a clear majority with 242 seats. Repeal will face a real challenge in the Senate, which still entertains a Democratic majority and, if the bill did pass the senate, the president will veto it.
Given this reality, criticism from the left has already arisen, as pundits and analysts chastise the GOP for failing to come up with a new plan for healthcare. House Rules Committee Chairman David Deier (R-California) countered the left’s objections by saying, “Either we’re going to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, or we’re not.” While the mandate requiring all members of the country purchase healthcare does not begin until 2014, and will likely require a Supreme Court case to determine whether it is even allowed under the constitution, other portions of the healthcare bill begin at the beginning of this year. Given the costs of implementing these changes, Republicans on the hill do not want to waste any time in clearing the slate and starting over. Key to this bill is the debate over its cost. Supporters claim that repeal will cost jobs and add to the deficit. Republicans claim that “budgetary gimmicks” were used to make the numbers work and, when fully implemented, it will cost $2.6 trillion and add $701 billion to the deficit in the first 10 years. It is worth noting that a version of this reform is already in place in Massachusetts and costs have spiraled as well as the fact that Medicare/Medicaid have well exceeded their original cost estimates.
Mere days after their swearing-in, the 112th Congress is already delivering on the first part of their midterm election promise of “repeal and replace”. The American people have spoken and they desperately do not want to be saddled with the massive costs and unprecedented expansion of government that Obamacare has promised. There are other, simpler options to consider, such as allowing insurance competition across state lines, portable insurance, malpractice reform, and options for group buying for small businesses that could be implemented. Such a huge issue should not have been voted on in a bill no one had the time to read – all aspects of this reform need to be looked at in the open before making these massive changes.