Supreme Court’s health-law ruling means full steam ahead for GOP repeal efforts

"The only way to save the country from Obamacare’s budget-busting government takeover of health care is to completely repeal it," Rep. Michele Bachmann said in a statement.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold President Barack Obama’s health-care reform law means one thing for Congress: It’s full steam ahead for the Republicans’ plan to repeal it.

Such a repeal is likely to fail in the Senate and would certainly meet a veto from Obama. But House Republican leaders committed themselves to a full repeal push after the court’s decision came down, scheduling a vote for July 11.

Rep. John KlineRep. John Kline

Republican members of the U.S. House delegation from Minnesota have long championed repeal and reaffirmed that today, with the state’s four congressional Republicans releasing statements opposing the law. Rep. John Kline, the delegation’s senior Republican, said the court’s decision “underscores the importance of fully repealing Obamacare.”

In an interview, Kline said Republicans could look to replace the law with proposals they raised during the initial debate over the legislation in 2009 and 2010, such as allowing small businesses to pool together and provide health insurance to workers, expanding health savings accounts and pushing medical liability reform.

Whole is unpopular; parts favored

Polling still shows that the Affordable Care Act as a whole is unpopular. A Reuters poll released earlier this week showed 56 percent of respondents oppose the health-care law, but there are popular components as well: 61 percent support allowing people under 26 years old to be covered by their parents’ insurance plans; 82 percent favor the law’s ban on insurance plans that don’t cover pre-existing conditions.

Kline said some provisions could survive a repeal effort, but Congress needs to sweep away the entirety of the Affordable Care Act before restoring popular parts of the law.

“You can’t get those things before you fully repeal Obamacare,” he said.

In a statement, Rep. Michele Bachmann said she supports a health-care plan that “allows individuals to purchase health care across state lines, allows individuals to purchase the plan of their choice and includes tort reform.”

“Real health care reform is about bringing down the cost of health care through free-market competition,” she said. “Real health care reform is about giving families more choices, not less. It is not about empowering big government where doctors and patients have little to no say in the quality of care they receive.”

House passed repeal in 2011

House Republicans passed an ACA repeal bill in January 2011, at the very onset of the current Congress, but the bill went nowhere in the Senate. In place of a full repeal, they have been working to end certain parts of the law all session long, passing a series of bills meant to carve away at the Affordable Care Act and at times defunding ACA components to pay for other programs.

But except for one major effort — repealing a new tax-reporting requirement for businesses — the Senate and President Obama have not acted on any of the bills, and a full repeal will likely die after the House approves it.

Earlier in June, the House passed an Erik Paulsen-based provision to rescind a $29 billion tax increased on medical-device manufactures, and Paulsen said in an interview Thursday that he is “going to do everything I can to stop that tax.”

He also aimed at the court’s thesis, that the government can tax an individual who fails to acquire health insurance, calling it, “a choice between either paying a massive new tax or higher insurance premiums.”

Democrats see an opening

While Republicans are moving forward with repeal efforts, Minnesota’s Democrats see room to improve and strengthen the law.

Rep. Keith EllisonRep. Keith Ellison

Rep. Keith Ellison said he hoped a validated Affordable Care Act will open the door to an expansion of government-subsidized health care in the future. Ellison has long supported a single-payer health-care plan, and said the ACA was a move toward one.

To be sure, Democrats were unable to pass a single-payer plan during the 111th Congress, when they were in the majority in the House and had a nearly filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But Ellison said the law is a step in the right direction.

“We weren’t going to go from all the way bad to all the way good,” he said.

In a statement, Sen. Amy Klobuchar praised the court for “putting the law above politics,” and left the door open for reforming the law going forward.

“This law is a beginning, not an end, and I believe that improvements still need to be made,” she said. “Moving forward I will continue to work to ensure the law is implemented in a way that is consistent with Minnesota’s high-quality, efficient health care system and ensure these reforms work for our state.”

Sen. Al Franken said he was happy with the ruling, but he predicted Congress won’t change the law, one way or another, any time soon.

“We have what we have and I like this [law] very, very much,” he said in an interview.

Changing the conversation

Absent a successful repeal under a Mitt Romney presidency, the next major milestone for the Affordable Care Act comes on Jan. 1, 2014, when the bulk of the law’s remaining provisions take place. By then, employers with 50 or more employees must provide health-care coverage to their workers, insurers can no long ban coverage based on pre-existing conditions or set annual payment caps, state-run insurance exchanges must be operational, and the penalty for not owning health coverage — the crux of the debate before the Supreme Court — kicks in.

Aside from setting up their exchanges, states must now decide how to go about expanding Medicaid eligibility, given that the penalty for failing to do so was overturned by the Supreme Court, University of Minnesota public health professor Jean Abraham said.

If Democrats manage to hold enough clout in Washington to avoid a repeal, they’re unlikely to make major changes to the health-care system until after the ACA has been fully implemented, said Abraham, a former economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

For now, Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum said the Supreme Court’s ruling fundamentally changes the conversation about health-care reform and the ACA in particular, making the law’s actual policy outcomes the central focus.

“Now we’re not going to be speaking about the constitutionality of this law,” she said. “This is the law of the land. Now we’re going to be able to have a discussion in the media about what this really means for people.”

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 06/28/2012 - 04:16 pm.

    Now That the Supreme Court Has Ruled

    Perhaps the Democrats will finally do what they should have done from the beginning: trumpet the individual benefits of the ACA and spell out, over and over and over again, what the public stands to lose if they elect Republicans sufficient to allow for the repeal of the ACA.

    I HOPE we’ll see endless political ads spelling out “Here’s what the Republicans want to take away from you, DON’T LET THEM DO IT!”

    Of course those who rely on Weasel News will never believe the truth of those ads, but they could be VERY effective for moderate/swing voters and successfully shake a few folks lose from the “conservative” base.

  2. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/28/2012 - 04:39 pm.

    The right had no valid ideas for reform before ACA

    and they have no valid ideas now. All they can claim is that it somehow infringes on people’s freedom, something which they have no problem doing in other areas of life. I too hope that the Democrats will use the ACA to educate the public of the benefits of this law. Not forgetting to also remind people that the Republicans want to gut Medicare and Social Security.

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/28/2012 - 06:06 pm.

    The Republican idea

    is to ration health care so that you can get it only if you’re rich like Romney.
    The rest of us can live free and die.

  4. Submitted by Mark Stromseth on 06/28/2012 - 06:35 pm.

    Last Tango in Paris

    It’s nice to see that Our Gal Shelley and her counterpart Kline have cemented their position in the minds of sane, rational people that they would rather bluster and posture about things they have absolutely no knowledge of, instead of serving the interests of the population.

    There is no hope of them repealing the ACA, and if they truly don’t realize that, then they obviously need psychiatricl help. None of them are lawyers, and they neither understand the Constitution, nor any other Federal law, so they’re ill-equipped to be talking about it as though they do. Maybe we can take a page from Shelley’s “reparative therapy” handbook and pray the Stupid away.

    And can we please stop quoting what so-called “public opinion” polls say? They are completely unreliable and unscientific; everyone knows the answers vary depending on who’s doing the polling, the questions being asked, the precise wording of the questions, and the inflection of words of phrases in each question by the pollster. It makes no difference whether the public thinks a law is popular or not; what matters is the constitutionality of the law. It’s not a popularity contest.

    It looks like the Repubs haven’t realized they’re dancing on their own graves.

  5. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 06/28/2012 - 10:42 pm.

    Ok Kline and Bachmann

    Reject your cushy health care benefits as house members and then attack the law. Does this law hurt the business of Marcus, Michelle? Most of Americans do not have the benefit of your health care and veteran benefits.

  6. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 06/28/2012 - 10:53 pm.

    The republican sky is falling

    About 6-8 weeks ago the republican leader Limbaugh (who has not been elected to anything, but leads the republicans because they can’t think for themselves) said the republicans have to keep the “fear and anger” going. OMG the sky is falling today for the republicans. It is the end of freedom. Lets see if we can all say it in unison, “It is the end of freedom”. You will notice they don’t have anything constructive to add to what they see as the problem, because they don’t have any solutions.
    First thing you have to know about Bachmann is she does not deal in facts, only the recommended “fear and anger”. With that said there is no reason to listen to this woman. Next thing out her mouth and the rest of the republicans mouths will be the death panels are here to stay. That is of course until the republican’s pull off the repeal they have talked about for three years. Three years from now they will still be talking about it. The republicans are living in a fantasy world where they will not accomplish anything because the party is too fractured with fringe thinking zealots. Voters, the republicans are sending you a very strong message. If you want to be afraid of everything, obstruct everything, never negotiate, and continually be angry then the republican party is for you in November. Good luck moving our country forward with those goals.

  7. Submitted by James Hamilton on 06/29/2012 - 09:39 am.

    Universal Health Care Coverage

    is not a new idea. The first federal health coverage act dates back to “July 14, 1798 [when] President John Adams signed a bill called the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seaman (sailors) and it was passed by the 5th Congress that authorized: A purchase or payment or Payroll deduction, call it what you like, through the deduction of twenty cents per month in seaman’s wages for a “Medical Care Fund” to take care of their sailors who were disabled or sickened.”

    Read more: http://www.politicolnews.com/the-first-health-care-president-john-adams-federal-health-mandates/#ixzz1zC0azQ5o

    “Accident insurance was first offered in the United States by the Franklin Health Assurance Company of Massachusetts. This firm, founded in 1850, offered insurance against injuries arising from railroad and steamboat accidents. Sixty organizations were offering accident insurance in the US by 1866, but the industry consolidated rapidly soon thereafter. While there were earlier experiments, the origins of sickness coverage in the US effectively date from 1890. The first employer-sponsored group disability policy was issued in 1911, but this plan’s primary purpose was replacing wages lost due to an inability to work, not medical expenses.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_insurance_in_the_United_States

    As World War II came to an end, Yank magazine asked veterans what they wanted to se happen when they returned home. Universal health care coverage was a common desire.

    The private sector has now had more than one hundred years in which to find a way to make health care affordable for all. To say it has failed is a masterpiece of understatement.

    It’s been said that the test for insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If that is the case, then what can we say about those who expect the marketplace to solve this problem on its own?

  8. Submitted by rosco olson on 07/01/2012 - 07:33 am.

    Republican’s in Congress

    They are the biggest hypocrites. We are forced to pay their salaries, pensions and yes their outstanding health and dental care but they don’t want any of the people they represent to get any health, dental care or pensions.

    To deny children with preexisting health care is immoral. To let people suffer and die because they can’t afford or have been denied coverage is immoral.

    Morality = We
    Immorality = Me

    GOP = Greed Over People.

    Moral Republican is an oxymoron.

  9. Submitted by Steve Roth on 07/03/2012 - 01:04 pm.

    Irony Abounds Here

    So the GOP continues to scream hysterically about the ACA, whose fundamental principles and idea was created by the Heritage Foundation, was once their standard plan vs. what was the Clinton health plan, has seen fantastic success since its implementation by their current presidential nominee, once a champion of it, in MA. It promotes capitalism in the insurance market and promotes responsibility.

    And since Thursday, I’ve lost no freedoms either.

    They have no answers besides “letting the market work it out” which we’ve seen the previous 40 years hasn’t worked in regards to health care.

    The best option, that our competitors have keeps the costs from businesses. But the GOP doesn’t like that now, do they.

    We’re watching the last gasps of a dinosaur here with today’s Republican party.

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