Can the Democrats Be the Party to Fix Obamacare?
The future of the Affordable Care Act is stabilizing; President Barack Obama knows it and Republicans facing reelection or challenging Democrat incumbents in November’s midterm congressional elections are beginning to realize it as well. In the four years that separate the signing of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010 with the conclusion of the first enrollment period for the Obamacare-created insurance exchanges at the end of last month, the Republican party has little changed its stance on the the health care reform, and repeal has always been a top priority of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. Republican lawmakers have attempted nearly fifty times to repeal, defund, or mitigate the impact of the law. But, with 8 million potential voters enrolled for coverage through the exchanges, the party’s repeal efforts have been complicated.
Across the board, repeal appears to be an untenable position for the Republican party. In November’s elections, in which Obamacare will undoubtedly be a major issue, Republican candidates will have to earn votes from people for whom repeal means the loss of health insurance coverage. A recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that approximately half of Americans — including 25 percent of Republicans — would prefer to modify the health care reform law rather than repealing it. And, logically speaking, no veto-proof repeal of the Affordable Care Act could take place with President Barack Obama in office, even if the Republican party takes control of the Senate as political analysts are predicting.
This is not to say that the most fundamental tenant of the health care reform debate is changing; Democrats still argue the health care reform is the most ambitious social program implemented in the United States since Medicare was passed in the 1960s, while Republicans still say it has put the United States on the slippery slope to socialism and a destroyed health care system. After all, it is election year and Republican lawmakers up for reelection need to appease those voters who want Obamacare repealed without alienating their more moderate constituents. More importantly, the party’s leadership is aware the same arguments against the individual insurance mandate can no longer be made.
The full, so-called “known-on effects” the law will have on the economy and on the American health care system may never be precisely quantified. It has even been difficult for the administration and health care experts to determine how successfully Obamacare expanded insurance coverage, the reform’s main goal. Still, some attempts have been made to evaluate the impact of the Affordable Care Act.