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Health law's fate in balance as GOP seems poised for gains

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Election 2010

Health law's fate in balance as GOP seems poised for gains

Politico: "Expected Republican wins in Congress and in statehouses throughout the country Tuesday would likely slow down implementation of the law and make the debate even more contentious — but not outright stop the law. ... several of the Republicans poised to take up key committee gavels promise to use their subpoena power to seek White House records of the legislative battle and call the administration to Capitol Hill to defend the law. They hope to use the next two years of congressional oversight to make the case for repealing the law in 2012 with a Republican president." GOP leaders have recently tried to temper expectations that an outright repeal would be forthcoming, if they're in the majority (Haberkorn, 11/2).

The Washington Post, in an analysis, notes that Republicans "almost certainly wouldn't have the votes to overwhelm a Democratic filibuster, much less overturn a presidential veto. The law, most likely, is here to stay. ... [But] the health-care law needs appropriations. The bill specifically details about 115 of them, some of which are integral to implementation of the legislation. Moreover, Republicans could get even more creative, refusing, for instance, to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to spend staff time setting up the law." But the repeal try through appropriations could be a double-edged sword for Republicans: If Obama refused to sign appropriations bills without funding for implementation of the health law, it could lead to a government shut down, harming the GOP (Klein, 11/1).

Related, earlier KHN story: House Takeover Would Give GOP Ways To Attack Health Law (Werber Serafini, 10/31)

The Wall Street Journal: Meanwhile, "health-industry groups, which aligned themselves with Democrats to pass the overhaul, are now reaching out to Republicans to help shape the GOP's health-care agenda. Insurers want to reverse tax increases and loosen restrictions on insurance premiums, and several groups hope to tack on medical malpractice protections." But insurers remain worried that the GOP will remove the individual mandate on Americans to purchase health insurance and "[m]ost health-industry groups — including [Karen] Ignagni's insurance group [America's Health Insurance Plans], which criticized the final law — say they're not ready to take a position on the Republicans' repeal effort" (Adamy and Weisman, 11/1).

The Wall Street Journal, in a separate story, reports that governors races are likely to influence the debate as well. "It is at the state level that the rubber of the health overhaul passed earlier this year actually hits the road. The law requires states by 2014 to set up exchanges through which citizens can buy health insurance. The details, however, are largely left to states. … That may make friendlier conditions for health-care companies as they look to 2014. Right-leaning states aren't only expected to set up smaller, less ambitious exchanges, but could add to private insurers' rolls by shrinking public programs like Medicaid. Little wonder shares of some large health providers, like UnitedHealth Group Inc., have rallied by more than a quarter since July." Health care companies still face challenges, however, as parts of the health law are implemented (11/2).

Los Angeles Times: Meanwhile, TV's "Dr. Oz" says it's time for people to "get over it" and use the new health law. The "nonpartisan California Endowment, a leading advocate of the new law" is planning to air a new advertisement on California television stations after the election ends Tuesday that will feature Dr. Mehmet Oz urging residents there to make the health law work. "'The party's over,' Oz says as the commercial begins. 'Whether your side won or lost, the yelling season is through. It's time to get over it and get on with it.'" The ad buy is $1 million (Levey, 11/1).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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