Legislators returned this week to Capitol Hill to start making plans for the next Congress, and the 80-plus freshmen have the fight against ObamaCare at the top of their lists. Likewise, most of the 29 Republican governors meeting this week in San Diego are making plans to resist what many see as a federal take-over of their health sectors.
For example, The New York Times today reports that Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker said he wants the state to freeze all efforts to put the law into effect until he takes office in January. He plans to join the Florida lawsuit against the health overhaul law and says he will do as little as possible to comply, but just enough to keep federal officials out. (If states have not made sufficient “progress” in getting exchanges set up by January of 2013, the feds will move in.)
Assuming the lawsuit will take time, the next step will be “looking at not only slowing down [the federal law but] offering a viable alternative to what the current administration has been aggressively doing,” he says.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has prohibited state officials from requesting any federal funds or taking any actions to implement the law without clearing it with him first. With nearly 700 new Republican state legislators elected Nov. 2, these governors will have the wind at their backs.
Expect states to demand more authority to escape federal mandates and instead receive block grants to administer Medicaid and other programs, as Rhode Island already is successfully doing.
A four-prong strategy: Since neither President Obama nor soon-to-be Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Can you believe it?!) seem to get the message from the electorate about how much they despise the law and how it was passed, Congress and governors will be spending the next two years helping them to understand and painting a different vision of market-based, consumer-friendly reform.
The battle against ObamaCare is taking on four fronts: political, legislative, legal, and regulatory.
The political front will involve continuing educational efforts to help the American people understand more about the law and its impact and to offer a positive, step-by-step agenda for reform. Rep. Tom Price, newly elected as the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, will take the lead. There will be ample opportunities in the next two years to get the word out through hearings, legislative initiatives, etc.
Legislative actions will begin with a full repeal vote on the House floor in January and then continue with targeted votes to defund, delay, dismantle, and direct oversight and investigation and, each time, to offer positive solutions.
Legal challenges will likely grow. A Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday encouraged newly elected governors and attorneys general to join the Florida suit, saying, “The voters showed their loathing for the law on November 2, and a large, united legal front of states would increase the chances that the courts find it unconstitutional.” As many as seven or eight more states could join the 20 in the suit.
Regulatory roadblocks: While the wheels of the bureaucracy are rapidly churning out regulations to implement the health overhaul law, legislators have a responsibility to protect the American people and taxpayers to make sure that these regulations and the implementation processes are doing no harm. Expect Congress to take a number of actions through oversight, hearings, and control of federal purse strings. We’re happy to share ideas with those interested.
Ryan to the rescue: And kudos, once again, to our fearless leader of visionary public policy, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, soon to be the chairman of the House Budget Committee. He and former Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin this week offered a plan to modernize Medicare and Medicaid, giving people more choices and getting us off the trajectory to fiscal calamity.
Waivers galore: Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon has joined forces with Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown to introduce a bill that would give states early waivers from the health law. It’s important because one of the major things it purports to do is allow them to escape the dreaded individual mandate.
But the Politico Pulse quotes a Republican Senate aide as saying “most Rs see these waivers as a joke?The waivers don’t address the structural flaws with PPACA…But the concept of a real waiver (where states could truly innovate to reduce spending and lower health care costs) might have some legs.”
Speaking of waivers, the 111 waivers granted (so far) by HHS to companies to allow them to escape some of the early insurance mandates is causing quite a commotion. Here’s a link to the very-hard-to-find list on the government’s website.
This evokes the Cornhusker Kickback, Louisiana Purchase, and all of the other special deals to buy senators’ votes that made people so mad when the law was passed. Now bureaucrats are picking political favorites!
Dreaded individual mandate: The federal mandate that everyone must purchase health insurance or face penalties is the Achilles’ Heel of the overhaul law. Fewer than one in five Americans support it, yet everyone will be subject to it. And Massachusetts is doing us a favor by telling us where this is headed:
The Commonwealth’s version of a health exchange “has turned into a legal pit bull by aggressively going after a growing number of Bay Staters who say they can’t afford mandated insurance — or the penalties imposed for not having it,” according to the Boston Herald.
“The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority is cracking down on more than 3,000 residents who are fighting state fines, and has even hired a private law firm to force the health insurance scofflaws to pay penalties of up to $2,000 a year,” it reports.
This will not stand!
CLIP OF THE WEEK
In this FOX News video, Liz Claman and others discuss the waivers that HHS has granted to 111 companies.
Watch now >>
GALEN IN THE NEWS
Allow Real Competition in Medicare
Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute
The New York Times: Room for Debate, 11/14/10
The best way to get Medicare spending under control is to follow the model of a successful program that is actually costing less than expected: the Part D prescription drug benefit, Turner writes. Medicare Part D was projected to cost $111.2 billion in 2009 under original estimates. But the most recent Medicare Trustees’ Report found that the benefit actually cost the federal government $60.8 billion last year. Experts attributed the lower cost to a slowing demand for prescription drugs, greater use of generics and fewer people signing up for the benefit. But the biggest reason is that the program uses a model of consumer choice and private competition to deliver the benefit. The first step for the new Congress should be to allow the popular Medicare Advantage plans to compete on price and value rather than slashing funding for them, as the new health overhaul law will do.
Read More »
Post-Election Predictions for ObamaCare
Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute
Medical Progress Today: Second Opinion, 11/11/10
While the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress try to pretend otherwise, a vote for the health law was a death knell for Democratic candidates in the Nov. 2 elections, Turner writes. All five of the House Democrats who flipped from voting “no” to “yes” on final passage lost their seats. As Republicans try to stall implementation of the law, they must simultaneously articulate their own solutions to the very real problems in our health care sector. They have signaled they plan to take a step-by-step approach to reform. But because President Obama and Democrats in Congress don’t appear to be listening to the American people’s serious concerns about the health care overhaul law, the battles will continue at least through 2012 when voters get another chance to get their attention in the voting booth.
Read More »
Debunking Richard Cohen: How Does the U.S. Health Care System Stack Up?
Thomas P. Miller, National Review Online, 11/15/10
A Progrowth Agenda For Congress
Stephen J. Entin, John C. Goodman, and Kellye Wright, Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation, 11/12/10
Variation in Public Opinion About Health Reform, by Plan Type: Findings from the 2010 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 11/10
Commandeering the People: Why the Individual Health Insurance Mandate is Unconstitutional
Randy E. Barnett, Georgetown University Law Center, 09/24/10
Republicans Rise to Power, With Enmity for Health Law
Kevin Sack, The New York Times, 11/19/10
A Blueprint for Rolling Back ObamaCare (Part 1)
Merrill Matthews, Forbes: Right Directions, 11/18/10
The Effects of ObamaCare
Lisa Cummings, InvestorsInsight.com, 11/10
Preliminary Analysis of the Rivlin-Ryan Health Care Proposal
Congressional Budget Office, 11/17/10
State Medicaid Reform After Obamacare
Nina Owcharenko, The Heritage Foundation, 11/16/10
Health Panel Brings Out Big Guns
Christine McConville, Boston Herald, 11/17/10
Medicare Trustees Reports 2010 and 2009: What a Difference a Year Makes
Andrew J. Rettenmaier and Thomas R. Saving, National Center for Policy Analysis, 11/18/10
Private Medicare Plans Are Retrenching
Avery Johnson, The Wall Street Journal, 11/19/10
Why Health Costs Are Still Rising
Devon Herrick, National Center for Policy Analysis, 11/18/10
Challenges and Changes: The Next Chapter in the Health Reform Debate
Galen Institute, American Action Forum, and Institute for Policy Innovation Event
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
9:30am – 2:00pm
Policy Changes for the New Congress
American Enterprise Institute and National Review Institute Event
Monday, November 22, 2010
9:15am – 12:30pm
How does America achieve affordable, accessible, quality health care?
Benjamin Rush Society Debate
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
5:00pm – 7:00pm
Patient Safety and Comfort: the Challenges of Switching Medicines
Stockholm Network Event
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Ethics, Aging, and the Coming Healthcare Challenge
Acton Institute Conference
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Vatican City, Italy