Just hours after it was sworn in, the new U.S. Congress presented a spotless plan to get President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul aka Obamacare dismantled. Experts claim that after countless failed attempts to undo the bill, Republicans might finally do it right. And there is nothing Democrats can no do to stop them.
Obamacare’s Days Likely Numbered
On Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee presented a budget resolution that contains several provisions which would enable Senate Republicans to undo Obamacare on a simple majority. Under the move, lawmakers seek to reverse the legislation through a special procedure called the budget reconciliation process. The procedure implies zero filibuster risks.
In other words, the Tea Party could roll back the healthcare law with only 50 votes out of 52 in Senate and a simple majority in the other chamber. The Wall Street Journal estimates the resolution could pass next week.
Experts explained it takes more than just a budget resolution to repeal the Affordable Care Act. However, this first step would enable the GOP to see a longtime wish became reality this year. The only obstacle, nonetheless, would represent the division within the party, analysts noted. Only if at least three GOP Senators or 24 House lawmakers defect, the process would reach a dead end.
It is surprising that Republicans could repeal the law on a simple majority when Obama administration needed the support of all 60 Senate Democrats to pass the bill nearly 7 years ago.
A Perfect Plan
Experts explained Republicans’ plan is perfectly legal because they are not going to dismantle the entire law at once. They will seek to dismiss it piece by piece. And they’ll start with the largest parts which provide most of the coverage gains they abhor.
The budget reconciliation process can only apply to bills that target expenditures and revenue. Congress devised the process in the 1970s in order to provide the Senate with a handy tool to tweak the laws governing huge spending programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
GOP made use of the process last year too when it approved the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act. At the time, the Senate decided reconciliation could remove all the Obamacare parts the new act repealed.
The bill, which nixed the mandate to purchase coverage, the program’s insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion, left some chunks of the Obamacare intact. For instance, insurers still have to cover adults until they are 26 years old. Experts explained this requirement is very popular and all the harder to dismantle. Moreover, Obamacare recipients with preexisting conditions will keep their coverage almost unaltered.
Republicans were very careful about another requirement that could have stymied their repeal efforts. Under the federal law, lawmakers cannot use reconciliation to pass bills that raise the deficit beyond 10 years. This is why, Bush administrations tax cuts in the early 2000s expired after a decade.
In Obamacare case, GOP senators found a workaround to prevent the repeal from increasing the deficit. They preserved the law’s cuts to Medicare physician payments, which in theory will lower the deficit.
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