Sound and fury expected on fast-track ACA repeal
Friday is the Republicans’ self-imposed deadline to establish a fast-track budget procedure to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But the process likely will play out more as political theater than as a genuine threat to the law.
Earlier this year, Republicans teed up a procedure called reconciliation to enable the Senate to avoid a Democratic filibuster and pass repeal legislation by a simple majority. Republicans included reconciliation in this spring’s budget discussions for the “sole purpose of repealing the president’s job-killing healthcare law,” according to a House resolution. While the GOP set a July 24 target date to start the process, there are no consequences for missing it, said Eric Zimmerman, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery. If congressional committees aren’t ready to put something forward, they still can do so later, including after the August recess.
Republicans know that even if they pass a repeal bill, President Barack Obama will veto it. “It’s part of fulfilling campaign promises and setting the stage for 2016 presidential and congressional elections,” Zimmerman said.
Even piecemeal repeal will be tough despite bipartisan support on some issues. For example, some Democrats have co-sponsored legislation to nix the law’s taxes on medical devices and high-value employer health plans. Obama likely would veto such measures, and Congress probably can’t muster the votes to override him.
“The president has appeared more emboldened since the King decision (upholding premium subsidies) and more resistant to any change that undermines the financing” for the ACA, Zimmerman said.