Are there ways to repeal Obamacare other than House delaying and defunding tactics?

July 18, 2013


Within the next few weeks, perhaps even today, the  House will vote on various bills to defund and delay Obamacare. These steps represent part of a strategy of the House aimed at achieving repeal by teeing up votes in the fall that will press the issue even further.


House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is backing the leadership proposals of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to hold votes on delaying the employer and individual mandates in Obamacare. Ryan told the National Review Online that delaying the mandates will help Republicans achieve their ultimate goal of repealing the law altogether.


House action was called for when the Obama administration announced its decision to unilaterally delay the health-care law’s employer mandate until 2015, conveniently beyond the upcoming mid-term election, by canceling the employer mandate requiring employers with more than 50 employees to offer and heavily subsidize health insurance to their workers. Individual mandates, however, were left in place for the rest of us.


On the fairness issue, the government has already granted more than 1,200 waivers to labor union allies and corporate cronies  excluding them from ObamaCare provisions.  Big business is the winner with the most costly burden falling on young adults in their twenties and thirties.  Considered to be the linchpin of Washington’s takeover of health care, if the individual mandate were to go  the takeover of health care would unravel, as it is imperative that young healthy people enroll in Obamacare in order to fund it.


Sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), H.R. 2668 calls for a one-year delay of the “individual mandate” of Obamacare.  Young’s bill is scheduled to be taken up shortly by the House.  As it now stands, the “individual mandate” of Obamacare, effective January 1, 2014, would require most U.S. citizens to purchase government-controlled health insurance.  Recommended is that Illinoisans call their representatives asking them to vote “yes” on H.R. 2668.


Another bill under consideration in the House is one sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) in which 100 other House members have joined forces with a bill to keep the IRS from enforcing Obamacare.


Representative Tom Cruz (R-TX) has gone even further with a bill to defund all of Obamacare permanently, but even with  permanent defunding hundreds of provisions would be left in place, such as:

  • Student loan takeover.
  • Sharing of electronic medical records.
  • IPAB.
  • Individual Mandate.
  • Employer Mandate.
  • Contraception Mandate.
  • State implementation of exchanges.


Hopefully any action taken to chip away at the bill, or even defund parts or all of Obamacare, will amount to more than just grandstanding on the part of House Republicans.  After all, the American people sent many Republican congressmen to Washington to end Obamacare, not just mend it.  Regarding the individual mandate taking effect in 2014, a mere 12% of Americans back it.


As indicated above, defunding without repeal would allow cronies on both sides to conspire to quietly add funding to an appropriations bill.  It would also set up a potential battle to challenge the administration whenever an agency spent money.  But realistically speaking, repeal would never advance past the House with President Obama in the White House and with the Senate controlled by Democrats!

According to Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute:

If that’s all Obamacare’s opponents in Congress do, it’s underplaying their hand.” . . . “Repealing or delaying the painful parts while keeping the rest in place will not only be a source of even more economic disruption and uncertainty, but Obamacare opponents will be blamed for it.

Suggested by Mr. Cannon was this alternative:

  • Attach an Obamacare-repeal bill to something the President and Senate Democrats actually want — like a debt limit increase or a continuing resolution to fund the government.
  • Go to conference.  Senate would have passed a version of a bill without the House’s repeal.  Therein lies an opportunity for Republicans (although skepticism exists over Republican conferee negotiation skills) to offer the President and his party something they can’t live without paired with something they really don’t want.


According to Benjamin Domenech, managing editor of Health Care News at The Heartland Institute, a series of delay votes in the House pales in contrast to the opportunity that was provided by the administration by its delay of its employee mandate.


As noted by *David Rivkin, by choosing to delay only the employee mandate the administration may have given individuals the legal standing to challenge the legal basis for enforcement, potentially giving millions of Americans the necessary standing to challenge President Obama’s conduct.  In other words, suspending the employer insurance mandate prevents the individual insurance mandate from working the way Congress intended.  Individuals who will have to buy their own health insurance will without doubt have suffered an injury sufficient to give them a right to sue.


Also up for argument would be whether any body other than Congress can determine whether a statue should survive or fall if the statue is fundamentally changed post-enactment.


*Mr. Rivkin is a partner at Baker Hostetler LLP.  He served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and represented 26 states in challenging Obamacare.


Heartland’s Benjamin Domenech concurs with David Rivkin, but puts it this way:

What the White House has really handed Republicans is an opportunity to go full-on populist and beat the individual mandate, the least popular aspect of the law, with a sledgehammer.

Recognizing that the House votes are going no where, Mr. Domenech suggests that any delay votes attempted by Republicans against Obamacare should repeatedly offer bills which highlight fears such as higher premium and having to give up ones own doctor.  Through picking targeted wedge battles, Obamacare supporters would be placed in a bind without committing conservatives to any particular long term policy.  That policy will happen in 2016, but should not happen now.

This approach sounds good to me, but it’s up to the Republican House leadership to decide.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 03:42 PM | Permalink



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