Obama Confident Enough People Have Signed Up for Obamacare to Work
The House has voted more than 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and efforts continue to kill it or render it worthless. The attempts thus far have proved fruitless, but lawmakers are still looking for ways.
Last week 25 of the Senate’s 45 Republican members, led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), sent a letter to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, demanding that the administration rescind a rule creating “an unwarranted special carve out” for some labor unions “over other Americans” regarding Obamacare-related fees.
The administration issued a rule on March 5 exempting some self-insured health plans – such as those commonly operated by labor organizations -- from reinsurance fees included in the Affordable Care Act. The three-year, $25 billion reinsurance fee is meant to stabilize the individual market in case too many sick customers obtain insurance between 2014 and 2016.
Prior to the issuance of that final rule, the fee applied equally to everyone with a private health insurance plan or a health plan administered by a private insurer.
In the letter, the 25 lawmakers characterized as “unacceptable” a carve out that would “ultimately be borne by every other American with private health insurance.”
“Obamacare is not working,” they said. “This regulation is the most recent in a long line of confusing delays, exemptions and politically motivated crony rewards. Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and that Americans actually want.”
The lawmakers asserted that they are “willing to work with anyone who will help enact common-sense laws that could actually lower premiums and insure more people.”
The letter, like previous attempts to attack Obamacare, is unlikely to have any impact. But Republicans may stand a good chance at the ballot box in November.
Obamacare remains widely unpopular with the voting public despite the enrollment uptick. A CNN/Opinion Research Poll conducted March 7-9 revealed that 57 percent of those questioned oppose the healthcare law while only 39 percent expressed approval. Those numbers could spell disaster for Democrats in the upcoming election.
Earlier this month, Republicans retained a Florida House seat, open as the result of the death of former Rep. Bill Young, a Republican, even though the winner, Rep. David Jolly, was outspent by a higher-profile Democratic opponent in a district that Obama carried twice.
Political analyst Charlie Cook, writing in the National Journal, called the Florida result “a signal that Obama's low poll numbers and the Affordable Care Act's unpopularity will very likely cost Democrats seats.”
Currently, Democrats hold a 53-45 advantage over the GOP in the upper chamber, with two independents general siding with the Democrats. Republicans will need to pick up six seats to gain the majority and right now, Cook wrote, “the wind certainly appears to be blowing in favor of Republicans. The main question is whether it is a light, moderate, strong, or hurricane-force wind.”
Of the 20 Democratic seats up this year, seven are in states carried by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. In six of those states Romney won by double-digit margins.
Several Democratic incumbents – Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Sen. Mark Begich (D-Ark.), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) – are either behind, tied or slightly ahead in their re-election efforts. Republicans are favored to win a pair of seats currently held by Democrats who are retiring, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).
And two new possibilities have been added to the GOP pick-up list in recent days. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is mounting a challenge to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in a state where the Affordable Care Act is very unpopular. Meanwhile, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) could face stiff opposition from former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican who opposed Obamacare during his short term in office.