Las Vegas Sun

November 24, 2014

Currently: 64° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Politics:

Health care ruling strengthens Republican resolve to attack law

Image

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., speaks during the GOP Doctors Caucus news conference in response to the Supreme Court health care ruling in Washington, June 28, 2012.

Affordable Care Act could raise insurance cost

KSNV reports that the Supreme Court's decision to approve the Affordable Care Act will increase health insurance price for others, June 28.

Click to enlarge photo

With the Capitol in the background, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court's health care ruling, June 28.

Democrats didn’t get much time to revel in the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, as Republicans swiftly turned disappointment into a redoubled campaign effort to repeal the law.

“I will act to repeal Obamacare,” Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney repledged Thursday morning.

The problem: he almost surely can’t.

But if things swing the Republicans’ way in November, Congress could do some damage to it.

Romney has pledged to use every power at his disposal to undo the health care law if he wins the presidency: issue executive orders, hand out state waivers like candy, and work with Congress to pass a repeal.

Repeal is a tricky word for the Republicans, though. On the one hand, it makes for a catchy campaign slogan. On the other, they need enough Republicans in Congress to actually make it work.

“I don’t see (a repeal) happening,” said Mark Hutchison, the Las Vegas lawyer appointed by former Gov. Jim Gibbons to fight the health care law. “To replace (the law), we’d have to have the White House, the House and the Senate ... a supermajority in the Senate.”

Achieving that in 2012 is all but a mathematical impossibility.

It takes 60 votes to overcome the threat of a filibuster in the Senate. There is not an election forecast in existence that gives the Republicans the 13 additional seats they would need to achieve that kind of a supermajority, even if they do manage to win control of the chamber.

Without that, a formal repeal is well-nigh impossible. Nonetheless, Nevada Republicans are still promising a repeal in exchange for campaign donations and votes.

“Step No. 1 for repealing Obamacare is winning in November,” Sen. Dean Heller’s campaign blasted out to supporters Thursday in a pitch for “$13 today toward victory in November and repeal in 2013.”

“This doubles my resolve to repeal what we now know is a tax on every Nevadan who decides to exert their own control over their health care,” Nevada Rep. Joe Heck said in an interview. “The Supreme Court had their word on June 28, but the American people will have the final word on Nov. 6.”

But while Republicans can’t deliver on their promise to repeal, they might be able to offer some piecemeal destruction of the bill through an arcane process known as budget reconciliation — if they can secure a simple Senate majority.

The budget reconciliation process was used to pass the Affordable Care Act. But it could also come in handy for Republicans trying to pick it apart because the process only requires 51 votes to make changes, so long as one is reducing and not adding tax revenues to the budget.

It just so happens that on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled the health care mandate operates as a tax, constitutional because it falls within Congress’ taxing authority.

“There’s no question that if (the mandate) is indeed a tax, you can repeal taxes using reconciliation,” said Robert Dove, who served as the Senate’s parliamentarian through 2001. It’s part of a parliamentarian’s job to act as referee during a budget committee process and determine what sorts of measures senators can and can’t strike down.

Even if budget reconciliation eliminated the mandate, the rest of the bill — coverage for pre-existing conditions, eligibility for young adults under age 26 to stay on their parents’ plan and free preventative health care — would stand.

“It’s a very narrow rule in terms of what you can put in reconciliation,” Dove explained. “Until the parliamentarian signs off on something, nobody knows anything.”

Democrats who had started the day sure that the fight over health care was over did not discount the potential of a post-election threat.

Click to enlarge photo

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 28, 2012, after the Supreme Court's ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law.

In fact, when asked whether he was concerned about Republicans’ threats to undo the law through the reconciliation process Thursday, Sen. Harry Reid answered with what sounded like a pitch to the American electorate to vote Democrat.

“All the more reason that the American people should understand we want to focus on jobs, not taking away benefits,” Reid said. “If they repeal this, it’s a loss of 400,000 jobs ... and we are here to focus on saving those 400,000 jobs and creating more jobs.”

The Democrats currently have 53 seats in the Senate, but due to retirements and close contests, need to pick up seats currently occupied by Republicans to maintain a majority.

If they do, there are few options for repeal available to Republicans, even if Romney ends up in the White House.

While Hutchison doesn’t see a possibility for repeal, he said “the fastest way to get relief” would be through executive orders waiving state participation in the law.

But even that could be problematic for Romney. The executive orders and waivers he’s been threatening to pass are either limited as temporary, not available until 2017 or require states to prove they have a functioning health care system in place that is at least as wide-reaching as the federal health care exchanges.

Over the next four months, however, politics trumps pragmatism — and there, the Supreme Court may have given Republicans a windfall by deciding against them.

“The Supreme Court’s decision does not change the facts about Obamacare: It’s a bad law that America neither wants nor can afford. And now the only way for voters to end it and pursue true reform is to vote Republican in November,”  Republican National Committee Political Director Rick Wiley said Thursday. “This hurts President Obama’s re-election prospects.”

Republicans enjoyed a strong burst of voter base enthusiasm Thursday: Romney’s campaign raked in over $2 million in the six hours following the decision, and Nevada Republicans noted a marked uptick in the number of locals calling in to volunteer for the party.

But Democrats say the election game has not fundamentally changed — and that the long-term momentum from Thursday’s Supreme Court decision bends to their favor.

“Does it inject a new dynamic into the race in general? No,” said a Nevada Democratic strategist. “We are exactly where we were yesterday. This decision excites our base tremendously, but when we are in November and the results are called, ultimately people aren’t going to say, ‘This is because of health care.’ They’ll say it’s because this party was focused on middle class jobs.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 27 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Almost immediately fear tactics were used to try to scare people into believing this is a bad thing.

    If people can escape the campaign of fear, they will eventually find the great benefit that has begun to help our nation gain control over runaway healthcare costs.

    This will benefit our the majority of citizens in many ways, some directly and others indirectly.

    Trying to stop it is not in the interest of the people, only the politicians and those they are beholden to.

    We need to wait, allow it to be experienced, and find how it can be improved over time.

  2. Enjoyed the article, Karoun. Funny how the entire Tea/Republican Party tries to collect campaign money off of this, and continues to try to fight back. It is noted that it's all politics and collecting money for them. There is not one iota of concern for the American people. They just want to repeal it, but there is no talk of what exactly it will be replaced with.

    Tea/Republicans just want scorched earth, and think this is a motivation for people to vote for them. Very flawed thinking, you ask me.

    Anyways, after all the ultra-conservative heads all exploded at once yesterday, and the dust settled, America is indeed better off. The Affordable Care Act is now a part of the Constitution, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court to be valid.

    I just want to point out that the millions and millions of dollars (perhaps when all added up, a billion) expended by the ultra-right wingnuts to fight the Affordable Care Act, it has been certified that, as of yesterday, they WASTED that money. The propaganda campaign against it failed. The Tea/Republicans would have been better off taking all that money, putting it in trash cans on Las Vegas Boulevard, pour lighter fluid on it, throw a lit match in and step back. POOF! Money wasted. It went up in smoke and they got nothing to show for it. All that ad campaign to fight "Obamacare" failed. And it failed abysmally.

    Why is that? Because the American people want adequate health care, readily available and cost cut, not for just a select few people, but EVERYONE.

    The American people have won.

    And this fact is driving the rabid foaming at the mouth ultra-conservative Tea/Republican Party politicians absolutely crazy.

    This will spell their doom.

    Rather than grasp it and work within the system after this decision, they have decided to double down and fight back.

    We now have a reason to crush the Tea/Republican Party on November 6, 2012. Even after something is Constitutional and just, they still want their way like spoilt children. A way that only serves their limited interests. Not the American people.

    Obama/Biden 2012 AND a total majority of Democrats in Congress.

  3. The Repu's remind me of those who were sure the earth was flat and if you went too far you would fall off.

    The Demo's are the world is round group who just sailed on until they find land. We know what they found when they arrived.

  4. The Rumpelstiltskin Party is not interested in making America a better place for Americans. They are more interested in fear-mongering than improving life for Americans. First Communists, then the Russians, then Gays and now those who actually believe Americans should not live in fear of getting sick. Republicans just want to have their way at the expense of the nation. THEY are the true Evil Empire.

  5. This is why we must work to make sure every republican is defeated. There will be over One Billion dollars spent by Dark Unknown Corporate Money (Super Pacs - Karl Rove - Americans for Prosperity) to attempt to Buy this Election for Republicans. You'll see Republican negative ads 10 to 1 to make sure Corporate Power reigns of the U.S.
    Ignore It All and Just vote Straight Democratic. Then next election we'll Primary Democrats owned by Corporations (Right John Lee).

  6. The GOP want this money to build the military so they can 'stand up' to China and Russia. They need the money for bombs and missiles to Save America. Mitt Romney wants the money because God wants America to lead the world, as his vision tells him.

    "And that, I've come to believe, is the true divide in this country. It's not blue state vs red state, liberal vs conservative, Democrat vs Republican. The split we have in America can be boiled down in its simplest form to this: On one side are the people who believe Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs 6,000 years ago -- and then there's everyone else. " -Michael Moore

    The Dino men want the White House back to take up where Iraq left off.

  7. The republicans are resolved to take away our health care.

    In 2010, they promised to "repeal and replace" Obamacare.

    They have been in office now for a year and a half.

    What have they done? NOTHING.

    They voted to repeal it, but haven't offered a SINGLE idea to replace it. They haven't passed a SINGLE bill to make our health care system stronger, cheaper , more accessible or better. NOTHING.

    So long as the insurance companies keep raking in profits by denying care, the GOP won't bother to lift a finger to help.

  8. Ironically, the only thing the republicans have done since promising to repeal and replace is to attack women's health care providers, call women who want access to birth control "sluts" and attempt to pass abortion restrictions and personhood amendments.

    That's the reality of the GOP. That's their plan for health care.

  9. it's kinda like divide and conquer....

    The GOP now so busy with their (new) health care issues, it's truly a major campaign distraction. This is not an issue the GOP will pull a win with.

  10. The TeaNuts are off the rails...

    IT'S OVER!!!
    You LOST!!!
    The ACA is good for America, and good for YOU, you silly TeaNut. Quit repeating the FOX talking points! They don't MAKE SENSE! Maybe if you used your brain and thought about it a little, you'd SEE IT!
    It ain't perfect, I know...
    But it's a GIANT STEP in the right direction for Americans.

  11. Hey, Rocky...

    What came first;
    The President calling it a 'penalty' or you TeaNuts calling it a 'tax'?

    It's SEMANTICS at any rate;
    tax, penalty, WHO CARES what you call it???

  12. Bachmanns answer is to repeal the law and then allow us to purchase insurance across state lines. Newsflash...insurance is sky high in all 50 states and averages $15,000.00 a year for a familiy plan. United Health has half the market with 70 million participants and Anthem (Blueshield, Bluecross) has most of the rest. United Nevada is not going to slash rates to compete against United California. The industry needs competition with more than two companies controlling the market....public option.

  13. gmag....bingo.

  14. http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2...
    These fools act like they care about Nevada. If they did we wouldn't have some of the highest costs in the entire nation!!!

  15. gmag39,

    Because Roberts declared it to be a tax the entire bill can be re-litgated in 2015 once the tax has been imposed. What Roberts said this time around established that Congress has the Constitutional right to levy taxes. But whether or not a specific tax is Constitutional can not be decided until *after* it is imposed. In this case, the question of whether Congress can levy a tax on someone for *not* purchasing a private product will be asked.

    (And there could be implications for SS as well. That bill went through a grinder based on semantics to pass Constitutional muster.)

    Not only that, if the Dems continue to say it is not a tax, or more importantly, takes steps to change the status so it is not a tax, then again, it can be brought back before the Court. But any change like that will immediately make the mandate un-Constitutional.

    Chief Justice Roberts also handed down a great ruling on what the Commerce Clause can not be used for. While not specifically reversing anything, it does set precedent for blocking future attempts at twisting the CC even further.

    Roberts called it what it is, and now we all have to deal with the consequences.

  16. If you look at Heck's congressional web site he discusses reducing the governments intrusiveness into healthcare by getting rid of ACA and then discusses improving senior care.
    Medicare is based on the single payer socialist model. If your old socialized medicine if fine but if you are under 65 best of luck.
    Heck looks like he might have some basal cell carcinoma on the top of his nose. He might want to get it checked.

  17. I remember another "Promise to Repeal"..the Patriot
    Act
    Lets Sing:
    When a President goes through the White House door,
    An' does what he says he'll do.
    We'll all be drinkin' free bubble-up,
    Eatin' that rainbow stew.
    (Merle Haggart)

  18. Paying for a health or automobile insurance policy has always been considered an expense, never a tax. John Roberts is just playing the name game so he doesn't take the hit directly. Renaming activities to create conflict is what the GOP does best.

  19. RedRocky....Research the states that are whining the most. The welfare states with the lousiest medical care. Check the moocher index.
    United Health made a statement last week that they would keep nearly ALL the Obama-care provisions with the exception of taking on sick children irrespective of the court decision. Why????The popularity of the provisions. They don't want to send out 70 million bad news letters.
    If the largest insurer likes the law its probably pretty good.
    Its about time the millions of welfare deadbeats pay for at least some of their largess.
    Having half the country pay for the other half is a bunch of nonsense. At $250 billion a month everyone can throw some cash into the medical care jar.

  20. Get this:
    SWHC +20.5% TODAY!
    Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation - BIG jump.

    The NRA is tooling up to make Obamacare one of most successful and sought after programs the Federal Government has seen since the Civilian Conservation Corps. FDR would have been jealous.

    And it will be no time at all before Emergicare pushes out Obamacare. ("You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet")

  21. Not that I expect them to understand, but it's worth pointing out to the Glenn Beck Fanclub:

    The Supreme Court did not decide the penalty is a tax. They found the mandate and resulting penalty stood under Congress' constitutional authority to tax. There's a distinction there that those on the far-right desperately want to ignore, but those of us with brains know better.

    Secondly, the CBO estimates that this penalty will apply to a whopping 1% of Americans once the state-based exchanges are developed.

    Third, GOP heroes like Mike Pence are comparing the Supreme Court decision to 9/11. These people have no shame.

    Obama succeeded in expanding Romneycare to the masses. It's gonna be real fun to watch Romney squirm in debate after debate. A flip-flopping 1%er with a glass jaw the size of Massachusetts.

    What's the GOP plan to replace Obamacare? NOTHING. They're hiding under rocks! That's leadership under John Boehner, Eric Cantor and the tea party!

  22. dipstick
    The Republicans can win the Senate. Romney could win the Presidency without Florida, California, Pennsylvania or Ohio...
    The traditional electoral map might get turned on its head..but that is just my guess..

  23. By rusty57 - "peacelilliy: the earth isn't flat to this republican. My submarine told me. You wouldn't know science if it bit you on the nose, fyi."

    LOL What kind of comment is that? I was referring to erroneous historical thinking in other centuries, not current science.

    Relax, take a deep breath, smile more!

  24. "Romney's bill was 68-70 pages long. Obama's = 2,800. To equate the two makes YOU look like a fool!"

    Actually, the Boston Globe reported it was 145 pages... double what you claim.
    http://www.boston.com/yourlife/health/ot...

    But hey, what's a little desperate lying now and then?

    "To equate the two makes YOU look like a fool!"

    The enforcement mechanism, healthcare exchanges, and individual mandate provisions are all nearly identical to Romneycare. There's no substantive difference.

    What did the Fact Checker find?

    "Comparing pages in different bills is silly, especially in this case. An apples-to-apples comparison suggests there is virtually no difference in page count between the relevant parts of the two laws--and that is not even accounting for the fact that "Romneycare" covers just one state and "Obamacare" covers an entire country."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact...

    Rather than take your party to task for failing, yet again, to live up to their campaign promises, you attack with feeble whining about page counts. Regulating 1/6 of our economy can't be done on a post-it note with crayons, no matter how hard you try.

    You should hold your party accountable, NVMakz. Boehner and Cantor repeatedly said they would "repeal and replace" and have yet to set forth a single bill that would substantively change our national health care system. Their failure is reflected in your failure to make a coherent point or counterargument.

  25. Oh, and as for tax vs. penalty?

    Much rather pay a tax for an individual mandate under the Democratic plan than the GOP mandate: forcing rape victims to undergo a forced transvaginal ultrasound before they can receive the care they need

    The GOP is so quick to forget... this was THEIR IDEA:

    In 1993, during the health care reform debate under President Clinton, Rhode Island republican John Chafee introduced the GOP alternate plan for health care reform, co-sponsored by 20 other GOP senators, demanding a federal individual mandate for health insurance. It was supported by other republicans like (recent GOP primary survivor) Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley.

    Linda Quick of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association fondly recalled the first time she heard a politician promoting the idea of the individual mandate. It was 1994, during a speech given by republican John McCain.

    In 2004, would-be GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduced his great idea for health care reform in Massachusetts: individual mandates.

    In 2008, Tommy Thompson, George W. Bush's pick for secretary of Health and Human Services said, "Just like people are required to have car insurance, they could be required to have health insurance."

    Fast-forward to 2011, and now the GOP declares that their idea, the individual mandate, is an "affront to personal liberty," "akin to tyranny," "unconstitutional," "unpatriotic," etc.

    Thank the GOP for the idea of mandates, NVMakz.

  26. Like I said...

    Teanuts; Off the DEEP END!!!

  27. Boy, oh boy'oh...

    Are THESE the hopes & dreams of the everyday TeaNut???

    I wish I could pay HIGHER Health Care PREMIUMS; they're just not ESCALATING FAST ENOUGH FOR ME!
    I wish my insurer could CANCEL ME!
    I wish I could be DENIED for PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS!
    I wish they'd kick my kid off my policy, while she's off @ college, because she's 'of age'!
    I wish people with SERIOUS ILLNESSES would 'cap out' and be denied health care services!
    I wish millions of POOR PEOPLE would suffer, because 'I don't CARE IF THEY'RE COVERED!
    I wish the country's economy would TANK EVEN MORE because everyone's paying ALL THEIR DOUGH TO HEALTH CARE COSTS!
    I pray that Richy Rich Romney will be elected, so he can CANCEL THE AFORDABLE CARE ACT! (like he could actually DO THAT!) Because FOX NEWZ told me it's 'BAD FOR AMERICA'!