The House passage of the repeal of the Democrats’ unipartisan approach to health care is a good indication of the correctable nature of legislative errors. Unfortunately, we know that House passage of the repeal, while important, is not enough, and that Sen. Harry Reid has pledged to prevent the repeal effort from coming to the Senate floor. None of this should be news to anyone. We have known for months that the House would bring up and pass the repeal, and that it would die for now in the Senate due to Democratic obstructionism. What we don’t know, and cannot know, is what happens next. The Republicans have learned that they can win elections on the health-care issue, that they can win a majority vote in the U.S. House in favor of repeal, and that they need to maintain a focus on the flaws of the health-care law if they are to maintain support among the populace for repeal. They have also learned that Democrats will pull out all the stops in opposing the Republican effort, including politicizing HHS and having one of their members comparing Republicans to Nazis.
We do not yet know how the Republicans will use their majoritarian powers in the House to keep up the pressure on the flawed health-care law, via investigations, hearings, updates on implementation efforts, and funding limitations on executive-branch activities. We also do not know how the courts will rule on the lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the individual mandate, although it is significant that a majority of states have signed on to the suit.
And we do not know how the Republicans will handle the “replace” piece of repeal and replace, whether they will come up with a credible alternative using Republican ideas to fix our flawed health-care system.
Answers to all of these questions will become clearer in the months ahead. For now, though, we have learned that the House Republican majority will follow through on their promises, and that is perhaps the most important lesson of all.