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Health Care Law Will Be Tough To Kill

Nov 4, 2010

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The newly empowered House Republicans got their new power in part by vowing to repeal the new landmark health-care legislation.

But as President Obama indicated during his news conference Wednesday, repealing the law won't be easy since there are a number of popular parts of the law.

Many voters were glad to see a law that barred the insurance industry practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or the dropping of people who get sick.

Obama said during his news conference:

But I don't think that if you ask the American people, should we stop trying to close the doughnut hole that will help senior citizens get prescription drugs, should we go back to a situation where people with preexisting conditions can't get health insurance, should we allow insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick even though you've been paying premiums — I don't think that you'd have a strong vote for people saying "Those are provisions I want to eliminate."

NPR's Judi Rovner provided more details on Morning Edition why it will be so difficult for Republicans to keep their vow to repeal the law.

She noted that the putative House speaker to be, John Boehner, indicated that overturning the law is likely to be more evolutionary than revolutionary.

An excerpt from her the Web version of her radio piece:

"Republicans cannot repeal Obamacare with President Obama wielding the veto pen," says Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for the libertarian Cato Institute. "I mean that's not within a set of possible outcomes."

That's because as large as the new GOP majority will be come January, it's still not large enough to override a presidential veto. In addition, the Senate will still be controlled by the Democrats, who are unlikely to go along with the repeal effort.

But Cannon, who is no fan of the new law, says House Republicans are not without weapons to do battle with the measure. "They're going to do everything they can to try to cripple the law, throw sand in the gears and make it even more unpopular than it has been for the past 18 months," he says.

There'll be a lot of House hearings, Cannon and other experts predict.

But those hearings could cut the other way, especially the ones the Democratic controlled Senate holds. The hearings could provide a platform for the airing of a lot of features that are popular in the law, like parents' ability to keep children on their health insurance plans until the kids are 26.

Ultimately, if the legislation's congressional critics can increase the unpopularity of the new law, it could give Republicans a bigger cudgel to use against Obama as he attempts to get re-elected. They could argue that the only way to repeal the law would be to get the biggest obstacle to that, the president, out of the White House.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has already begun to line of argument with recent public comments to the effect that his priority is to see that Obama isn't re-elected.

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