House Republicans have set themselves a more ambitious goal than simply
wiping out the sweeping health care overhaul signed into law last March.
When they take up the much-anticipated repeal resolution Tuesday and Wednesday,
And while they will be mindful of the call for changing the tone of debate following the attempted assassination of Rep.
He is now more formidable than he was immediately
after the Republican electoral victory in November, thanks to a
productive lame-duck congressional session and his actions after the
Incumbents can’t be unseated with praise. “If you favor civility, then you favor the status quo,” said
That was demonstrated last year when tea-party anger
— much of it directed at the Democratic health care overhaul, helped
tip the House into Republican hands.
to do that, but they are determined to use a House vote to redeem their
campaign promise, and to create an alternative proposal that will
enable them to keep health care alive as an issue into 2012.
“It’s more than just repeal,” said Rep.
as Obama did: reconciling the difficult — and politically sensitive —
tradeoffs that come with trying to provide more and better health care
while also controlling costs. That balancing act is one of the reasons
Obama’s health care law is so complicated. And it explains in large
alternative during the debate over the Democratic legislation or the
2010 congressional elections.
Previous Republican efforts at health care reform were projected to
leave 52 million Americans uninsured in 2019. By contrast, the Obama
law is expected to reduce the number of uninsured to 23 million.
The Republican plan, unlike the Obama overhaul, did
not include an unpopular mandate requiring Americans to buy health
insurance. But Republican lawmakers have not indicated how they plan to
expand coverage, a task that even conservative health care experts say
could be a major challenge for the party.
“In a time where we don’t have excess funds, looking
to solve the problem of the uninsured may not be an easy sell,” said
Nina Owcharenko, director of the
So far, senior Republicans are remaining tight-lipped about how or when they will deliver their vision of something better.
“Knocking down the building is a lot easier than building something to replace it,” warned
short resolution directing four House committees to develop legislation
meeting 12 criteria, among them: lowering premium costs, assuring
access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and
increasing the number of insured Americans, all without raising taxes.
lawmakers will draw heavily on legislation they developed in the fall
of 2009 as House Democrats were putting the finishing touches on their
That plan, which unified staples of
health care policy from years past, built on a longtime conservative
belief that reduced regulation is the best path to controlling costs.
rise in insurance premiums by allowing insurers to avoid mandates in
some states to cover services such as maternity care, cancer screenings
Although premiums still would have increased by 2016 under the
plan, one analysis found, the increases for small businesses would have
been 7 percent to 10 percent less than without the plan.
That analysis was by the nonpartisan
For individuals who buy insurance on their own,
rates would have been 5 percent to 8 percent lower than without the
plan, the office estimated.
The savings showed the plan was “a common-sense, step-by-step plan that will lower premiums,” Rep.
But that accomplishment did not come without other costs.
Deregulating insurance could make health insurance
more expensive for sick Americans, even if it were more affordable for
healthy people, according to the budget office, which both parties rely
on to assess the impact of proposed legislation.
Budget analysts also estimated that the quality of
the coverage that many Americans had could erode as insurers offered
But Republicans did not offer any help for low- and
moderate-income Americans who are struggling to pay their premiums.
Premium subsidies are the single largest expense in the law that Obama
For now, House Republican leaders say they need time to develop their alternative.
“We want to do replacement in a legitimate process,” said Rep.
At the same time, the congressional comity following the
“I get a little uneasy with the idea that political rhetoric has anything to do with the tragedy in
(c) 2011, Tribune Co.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.