The Republican pledge to repeal health care reform is unrealistic

republicans take a swing at repealing health care reform

John Boehner took a swing at repealing health care reform with the Republican Pledge to America, but political realities make that promise unlikely. Image: CC Keith Allison/Flickr

The Republican Pledge to America includes repealing health care reform. With November elections imminent, the GOP believes the public is on their side. Polls show growing opposition to the health care law. But other polls show that most Americans have no idea what is in the health care law. Republicans hope to capitalize on this public ignorance. However, even with a majority in Congress, Republicans can’t escape the presidential veto. Plus, the first provisions of health care reform just kicked in Sept. 23. People may decide they like protections like free preventive care and coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Pledge to America is political theater

The GOP’s vow to repeal health care reform in its Pledge to America is likely to be nothing more than an attack line. Derek Thompson at the Atlantic said it’s doubtful Republicans will take the Senate. Even if they do, Obama will veto anything that weakens health care reform. Thompson writes that even if the GOP succeeded in repealing a part of the bill that bothers them most–requiring everyone to have health insurance–it will backfire. People will wait until they’re sick and sign up with insurance companies that can’t reject them for a pre-existing condition. Then insurance companies would raise prices further on everybody. If Republicans try to defund Medicaid expansion, they’ll take away health care from millions. If they reverse Medicare cuts, they take away savings intended to pay for millions of Americans’ health care.

Public ignorance fuels opposition to health care reform

Some polls have emboldened Republicans to make the promise of repeal. A Rasmussen Reports survey showed that 61 percent of likely U.S. voters “somewhat” favor repeal. That’s the highest level of opposition measured since late May. Kavita Pavel at CNN said the public is confused. She cites a recent survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in which only 14 percent knew the law’s first set of patient protections started Sept. 23. Less than half knew health care reform allowed them free preventive care. Even less could identify any of the law’s protections that went into effect Sept. 23. Kavita also mentioned an Associated Press poll finding that 25 percent of Americans bought the falsehood that a government panel would make decisions about their health care.

Honest discussion about health care reform unlikely

Republicans say health care reform is fiscally irresponsible. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that health care will cost two-thirds more than it does now by 2019–with or without health care reform. USA Today reports that while the law in its present form isn’t projected to curb spending, it does end insurance company abuses. It also has enough cost controls to bring health insurance coverage to an additional 32.5 million people. USA Today said what health care reform needs is more solutions to keep health care costs from rising at unsustainable rates. But that would require Republicans and Democrats to have an honest discussion about health care reform. Don’t hold your breath.

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