Boehner, Cantor give glimpse of GOP intentions for Obamacare

By Tom Sullivan
11:03 AM

The question was blunt, and closed to misinterpretation: “You had said next year that you would repeal the healthcare law, is that still your mission?”

Diane Sawyer asked that of House Speaker John Boehner during an interview that aired Thursday night on ABC. 

“Well I think the election changes that,” Boehner answered. “It’s pretty clear that the President was reelected, Obamacare is the law of the land. I think there are parts of the healthcare law that are going to be very difficult to implement and very expensive. And at a time when we’re trying to find a way to create a path toward a balanced budget, everything has to be on the table.”

[Political Malpractice commentary: Don't pop the champagne for ACA anytime soon]

Sawyer followed up by asking, “But you won’t be spending the next year trying to repeal Obamacare?”

“There are certainly maybe parts of it that we believe need to be changed,” Boehner said. “We may do that, no decisions at this point.”

Striking a more decided and combative stance, Virginia Rep. and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote in a letter on Wednesday that “runaway entitlements – including the recent takeover of our healthcare system through Obamacare – are bankrupting us while at the same time failing to actually help those in need.”

Cantor was referring specifically to Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the contentious Independent Payment Advisory Board, a.k.a. IPAB.

“While it is unrealistic for us to expect the President to embrace our vision of Medicare reform or Obamacare repeal, it is equally unrealistic for the President to continue to insist that Obamacare is off the table, or that Medicare and Medicaid require nothing more than some additional provider cuts,” Cantor wrote. “If we successfully make the case publicly, bills that could reach the President’s desk include: expanded work requirements for welfare programs, expanded domestic energy productions and repeal of IPAB.”

Deborah Bachrach, special counsel on healthcare transactions and policy at Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips said that, despite political wrangling, President Obama’s reelection means a number of U.S. states will now move forward implementing provisions of the ACA, including Medicaid expansion, even states that had been holding off until Election Day.

“Now that the framework of the ACA has been both endorsed by the Supreme Court this summer and confirmed by the election, I think the states will run with that power, that authority,” Bachrach explained. “And the foundation of near-universal coverage contemplated by the ACA really is Medicaid.”

[Political Malpractice slideshow: The election and the fate of the ACA]

If the states do indeed push forward with the ACA, that will invariably bolster President Obama’s health reform efforts, but it won’t likely stop Boehner, Cantor and othe rRepublicans who are still so staunchly opposed.

Writing of the House’s previous repeals of the ACA, in fact, Cantor also noted in his letter “the good news is that we have done it before.”

Richard Hodge, senior director of congressional affairs for HIMSS, expects the House’s repeal efforts to continue.

“I think you can count on a number of the bills from last Congress to try and repeal parts or all of the ACA to probably be re-introduced in the new Congress because everything falls off the table at the end of one Congress,” Hodge explained. “Republicans will probably try to repeal – but it won’t make it through the Senate.”


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