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Health care reform still contentious
January 17th, 2011
WASHINGTON – The battle over the health care reform bill President Obama signed into law last spring continues, with incoming Republicans in the House vowing to undo the law.
An out-and-out repeal of the health care reform law, which House Republicans aim to push for, seems unlikely. Democrats still have a slight majority in the Senate, and President Obama has the power to veto any health care reform repeal bill.
But the new GOP majority in the House also plans to fight the law in other ways, possibly by cutting off funding for its provisions, holding investigative hearings and encouraging state officials to challenge the constitutionality of the law in court.
Last month a federal district court judge in Virginia invalidated one of the reform law’s key provisions, which required most Americans to buy health insurance. Two other judges, in separate cases, have upheld the provision.
Those cases, and others like them, are expected to wind their way through the appellate courts over the next two years. But the central issue — whether the mandate exceeds Congress’ power under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause — will likely be decided by the Supreme Court.
Democratic leaders have promised to aggressively defend the law by rebutting Republican arguments and getting publicity for people who would lose their benefits if the law were repealed.
The Democrats have received some ammunition in their cause from the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) projection that repealing the law would add $230 billion to the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years and leave 54 million people uninsured.
The new House speaker, Ohio Republican John Boehner, has rejected that view, arguing that the independent analysts of the CBO based their report on faulty assumptions. He says keeping the law as is will add $701 billion to the deficit in its first 10 years and will cost $2.6 trillion when fully implemented.