Can Obamacare Be Defunded?

...long, uphill fight

...signing Obamacare n 2010 (Paul Brandus/West Wing Reports)
Paul Brandus (Mar. 12, 2013)


Defunding Obamacare is a centerpiece of Paul Ryan's budget plan that he's releasing today. Ryan seems to think this is possible. Few others seem to think so.  What would it take? Jill Lawrence of National Journal notes: 

"For the health care law to be repealed before 2017, you’d have to believe that either Obama would, lamb-like, accept repeal of his signature domestic accomplishment, or that Republicans in 2014 would somehow win veto-proof two-thirds majorities in the House (290 votes if all 435 representatives are present, 58 more seats than the GOP held as of mid-March) and the Senate (67 votes, which would require a net gain of 22 seats).

For repeal to be feasible in 2017, a Republican would have to win the White House in 2016; Republicans would need to hold their House majority, and Republicans would need a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate (15 more than they have now).

Just to put the numbers in perspective, in the huge GOP wave of 2010, the party picked up 63 House seats (the most since 1938) and six Senate seats (double the midterm average). So the gains they would need in 2014 and 2016 are not impossible, but they are a reach.

Beyond the statistics, 2017 is a long way off. By then, Obamacare will be woven into the fabric of the country and its health-care system, and it likely will have been tweaked to iron out problems as they arise. Millions of Americans will be buying private health insurance policies in online exchanges. Some of them are unable to buy coverage now because of preexisting conditions. Others who can’t afford it now will be getting federal subsidies. Private insurance companies won’t want to lose the new customers. Hospitals, now stuck with absorbing the cost of care for the uninsured, won’t want to lose the Medicaid expansion that will insure millions of poor and low-income people."

Good luck with that, Mr. Chairman.

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