Will the health care reform law last after 2010 election?
The health care reform bill received no support from the Republican party, and faces a battle for its life if the GOP gains a majority after the 2010 election.
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Opinion polls signal that many Americans see the bill as directed mainly to helping the poor and uninsured at the expense of those happy with their own insurance plans.Skip to next paragraph
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Congressional Democrats hope to change that view by pointing out what's in the law for the middle class.Many are telling their constituents that it will create jobs, help the economy recover, reduce the US deficit, and protect all American families from insurance company bias.
"Starting right away, healthcare reform will help seniors afford prescription drugs," said Rep. Paul Hodes (D) of New Hampshire, who is running for the Senate, at a March 31 campaign rally in Manchester. "Seniors, small businesses, and middle-class families in New Hampshire can't afford to let insurance companies win."
Republicans, meanwhile, are already campaigning to repeal the law.
"The tax hikes, the Medicare cuts, the job-killing mandate, the accounting gimmicks, the backroom deals – we're going to fight to repeal them at every single turn," said House GOP leader John Boehner at a briefing on March 25.
"The American people aren't going to take this lying down. The ink isn't even dry and there's a grass-roots revolt over this bill," he added, referring to two states that have voted to reject mandates in the law and 37 others considering such measures or court challenges.
Public's objections heeded
Even a big, bipartisan vote is no guarantee that healthcare reforms can be sustained.
Case in point: the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988, which promised prescription-drug coverage and extended hospitalization benefits to seniors. Congress repealed the law a year after it was passed, after seniors objected to new out-of-pocket costs that kicked in before the law's biggest benefits.
In 2003, House Republicans ground out a victory for President Bush's prescription-drug reform. Sixteen Democrats in the House and 11 in the Senate gave Republicans at least a claim to be moving bipartisan legislation. Still, Democrats objected to GOP tactics to jam the bill through the House, including adding nearly three hours to a 15-minute vote. They also opposed GOP provisions to extend prescription-drug coverage to those who receive Medicare benefits through private plans (Medicare Advantage).
Now, in another twist, Democrats are using their majority to reverse that policy. The "fixes" that passed along with the healthcare reform bill cut $135.6 billion from the Medicare Advantage program from 2010 through 2019.
"It's reasonable to speculate that [a partisan vote] is another factor that increases the risk of a law being appealed or eroded over time," says Patashnik.