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Entries in pledge to America (1)

Wednesday
Nov032010

Will Health Care Overhaul Survive Republican Control of the House?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Since the health care bill passed in March, Republicans have vowed to "repeal and replace" it as a central part of their "Pledge to America."

Now that they will assume control of the House of Representatives next year, that GOP mission is among the options they'll have to weigh, health policy analysts say. "Repeal and replace" is unlikely to happen, the analysts agreed, so Republicans may have tough choices ahead.

"Absent a supermajority in both houses of Congress, efforts by either or both houses to reverse the law will most surely be vetoed," said Jay Wolfson, distinguished service professor of public health and medicine at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Gail Wilensky, an economist and senior fellow at Project HOPE, an international health foundation, said, "The real question is whether the Republican House and the more closely divided by Democratic Senate work to fix aspects that are regarded as particularly troublesome or leave it as is, so that the more egregious parts are more obvious."

Either way, she added, Congress must address at least one issue immediately.

"They need to fix the Medicare physician fee schedule right away," she said. "Starting on December 1, Medicare payments to physicians will drop 23 percent." The cuts are part of a congressional plan to help reduce the budget deficit.

Ken Thorpe, professor of health policy at Emory University in Atlanta, said, "They can do a 13-month extension of that and give Congress time to think how to...[fix the payment system], but it will cost billions to freeze the payment system." 

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