The short answer is, yes, Obamacare can be undone, if Republicans maintain their House majority in November, elect a Republican president, and get 50 Republican seats in the Senate. Obamacare can be repealed using the reconciliation process, because a simple one- or two-page repeal bill would have to be considered “germane” to the budget.
Many conservatives believe that the Supreme Court will do the heavy lifting for them, by striking down the law. But this is highly improbable. At most, the Court is likely to overturn the individual mandate and two closely related provisions: “guaranteed issue,” which forces insurers to take on patients regardless of whether or not they are already sick (preexisting conditions); and “community rating,” which forces young people to pay more for insurance in order to make insurance cheaper for the middle-aged.
The Supremes are likely to leave the rest of the law — its massive expansion of Medicaid; its costly and unwise insurance regulations; even its federal takeover of student loans — intact.
Many conservatives are grumbling about the quality of the GOP presidential field. What we do know, however, is that any of these nominees will repeal Obamacare. And if we don’t repeal Obamacare, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to bring our federal deficit under control. Hence, no matter who ends up being the nominee, we’ve got to stop grumbling and do the hard work to get that man elected.
— Avik Roy is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Apothecary, a Forbes.com blog on health-care and entitlement reform. You can follow him on Twitter at @aviksaroy.
Two years ago, the Democrats passed the Obama health-care law to great fanfare and assumed that it would be the key to a new era of Democratic electoral dominance. What we have seen over the last two years is that, unlike previous expansions of the welfare state, this law has not been absorbed into the body politic. Instead, because of its expense, intrusiveness, and the partisan way in which it was passed, it is being resisted, and on a number of fronts. On the political front, every one of the Republican candidates has pledged to repeal the law. On the legislative front, Republicans made big gains in Congress in 2010 because of opposition to the new law, and the House has already passed a bill to repeal it. And as we will see next week at the Supreme Court, the legal challenge to the health law is a serious and substantive one, despite Democratic dismissiveness of it in its early stages.
All of these very real challenges to the law have put its backers on the defensive, and have generated uncertainty about the its prospects within the health industry and in the states that are supposed to implement part of it. All of this does not mean that we can count on the law’s being overturned. What it does mean is that conservatives have made great strides in moving towards elimination of the law, but that hard work remains to be done.
— Tevi Troy is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.