WASHINGTON, November 13, 2013 —The next major push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, will likely come in January 2014.
As more and more Americans receive notices that their health care policies are cancelled and that replacement policies are outlandishly expensive, focus is shifting from the technical website glitches to the problems with the substance of the law.
More than 4.2 million Americans have had their health insurance policies cancelled thanks to Obamacare, according to Health Policy and Strategy Associates. The same firm estimates that number could triple over the next few months.
Numerous websites are helping to spread the message about the pains of the Act. Mycancellation.com, for example, allows users to post photos of themselves and their cancellation letters. Many display not only the cancellation letter, but also quotes of new policies with enormous cost increases.
Steven Hayward explained in Forbes that this tide of public discontent is likely to resonate with politicians seeking re-election. Representatives who return to their districts for Christmas break will almost certainly hear from constituents now faced with health care difficulties. Hayward says this discontent will push Senators to advocate for changes to, or repeal of, Obamacare. Writes Hayward, “Democrats will not want to face the voters next November with the albatross of Obamacare.”
Class 2 Senators face election on November 4, 2014. In this race, 33 of the 100 senators will face reelection, including 20 Democrats and 13 Republicans. Senators from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming are up for election.
If these Senators hear loud complaints from constituents, they are likely to return to Washington ready to push for Obamacare changes.
Recent statements by a tired-looking Bill Clinton saying Americans should be able to keep their healthcare are likely to embolden Democrats to push against President Obama. Tacit permission from the Bill Clinton to reform the law, especially as Hillary gears up for the 2016 presidential bid, allows Democrats to move forward without fear of party retribution.
Bill and Hillary Clinton may step-up their own moves against the Act to strengthen Hillary’s position, particularly as the latest polls show her in a statistical dead heat with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as favorites for the presidency. Climbing on the “reform Obamacare” bandwagon could help her edge Christie as the election approaches.
While January efforts are likely to highlight “reform” rather than “repeal,” there is precedence to overturn healthcare legislation. In 1989, Congress overturned the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, a bipartisan Congressional effort, after enormous public outcry. Ironically, the main beneficiaries of the Act, Seniors, wanted to keep their existing policies and resented new fees, and audibly told their Congressmen of their discontent.
Current polls show that most Americans want to fix, but not repeal, the Affordable Care Act. An October poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner says 58 percent of voters want the universal health care law, but want it fixed. Only 38 percent of voters want it repealed, according to the poll by the Democratic firm. However, that number may have changed since there has been a considerable upsurge in discontent since late October when Americans started receiving cancellation notices.
Those opposed to the law are urging voters to lobby their Senators for change, especially if they are up for re-election in November.
Any significant alterations in the law could also cause problems, however. Congress could overturn or radically change the law, but there is no guarantee insurance companies would reinstate canceled plans. Moreover, those who have received coverage under the Affordable Care Act could lose their plan if the Act is overturned.
So far, there are few obvious answers for the health care debacle. But January may offer the next real opportunity for at least some relief.
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