Entries in Health Care Law (45)


Health Care Law: GOP Govs Opt Out of State Exchanges

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite President Obama’s victory, Republican governors say they’re not caving in on carrying out the Affordable Care Act -- or as they’ve derisively dubbed it, “Obamacare.”

Several governors have announced that they would not up state health care exchanges from which residents can select a health care plan, a requirement of the signature piece of legislation from Obama’s first term, even though Obama’s re-election made the Affordable Care Act the law of the land and any refusal to set up the exchanges is largely symbolic.

States have until Nov. 16 to decide whether they will set up these exchanges, and this week several governors announced they’re opting out.

On Thursday, South Carolina governor and rising Republican star Nikki Haley sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying that South Carolina, “should not and will not set up a state-based health care exchange.”

Several other Republican governors, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a GOP leader who is frequently cited as a potential candidate in 2016, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, announced that their states would also not set up an exchange.

“I am not going to set up a state-based exchange that will create a tax burden of up to $50 million on the people of Alabama,” Bentley said Tuesday.

Other states where the governors have made similar declarations include Kansas and Alaska. In Missouri, the Democratic governor announced on Thursday that the state would not set up an exchange either, but that announcement resulted from a ballot measure that forbade the governor from moving forward with an exchange without the approval of the state’s legislature, and Republicans control Missouri’s state legislature.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has said that he will make his announcement on Friday.

So what do these refusals mean for the future of the health care law? Not much, it seems, as the health insurance exchanges will be set up in these states anyway.

Under the law, if a state falls behind or opts not to set up the exchange, the federal government, specifically the Department of Health and Human Services, steps in and sets up the exchange. That would not likely be well-received by Republican governors either, but the law forces each state’s executive to make a decision one way or the other.

“If the state decides not to establish an exchange, then the federal government establishes the exchange for them. So it’s kind of a pick-your-poison scenario, if you will,” said Renee M. Landers, a professor of law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

The potential for state executives to opt out of this portion of the law had been anticipated for some time. Almost immediately after the Supreme Court announced its ruling on the Affordable Care Act last June, several governors, including Jindal and Walker, said they would wait until after the election to take any sort of action on the law.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House Planning Yet Another Vote to Repeal Healthcare Law

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When it comes to House Republican efforts to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law, it’s a case of, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again -- and then try some more.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already voted 32 times this year to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and House Speaker John Boehner says another vote is expected Wednesday afternoon.  The repeal measures have passed in the House but died in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority.

House Democrats once again are voicing their opposition to GOP efforts, saying there are more pressing issues facing the country.  During a procedural vote Tuesday, Democrat Louise Slaughter of New York said the repeal measure is nothing more than political theater.

Even though all previous 32 House measures have gone nowhere in the Senate, Speaker Boehner is optimistic about vote number 33, saying hope springs eternal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gov. Rick Perry Says Texas Won’t Implement Portions of ‘Obamacare’

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry will send a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday informing her that Texas will not implement two portions of President Obama’s health care plan despite the Supreme Court’s upholding it last month.

Perry specifically will express his opposition to establishing a state health insurance exchange and expanding Medicaid required by the plan.

Ted Oberg of ABC News' Houston affiliate KTRK-TV obtained a portion of the letter that will be sent to Sebelius Monday morning.

“If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.  I will not be party to socializing health care and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government,” Perry says in the letter.  “I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the Obamacare power grab.  Neither a ‘state’ exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under this program would result in better ‘patient protection’ or in more ‘affordable care.’  They would only make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to health care.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Editorial Says Romney’s Supreme Court Reaction Threatens His Chances

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WOLFEBORO N.H.) -- A scathing Wall Street Journal editorial Thursday morning said the Romney campaign’s -- and now Romney’s -- comments on the Supreme Court health decision will be considered a “a turning point” if the presumptive GOP nominee loses to President Obama this fall.

The editorial says that the candidate’s initial decision to “absolve President Obama of raising taxes on the middle class,” delivered by his senior adviser, might lead to the former Massachusetts’ governor’s “second political defeat” and that a subsequent interview on Wednesday left the campaign looking “confused in addition to being politically dumb.”


Romney retreated from his adviser’s comment and told CBS News on Wednesday that the individual mandate is indeed a tax because that’s what the Supreme Court decided.

“The dissent lost.  It’s in the minority.  And so now the Supreme Court has spoken, and while I agreed with the dissent, that’s taken over by the fact that a majority of the court said it’s a tax, and therefore it’s a tax.  They have spoken,” Romney said in the interview.  “There’s no way around that.  You can try and say you wish they had decided a different way, but they didn’t.  They concluded it was a tax.  That’s what it is.”

Romney’s remarks on the tax contradicted those of his senior adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, who earlier this week had said that Romney “disagrees with the court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax.”  The discrepancy lead the editorial to refer to the Romney campaign’s reaction to the ruling as a “lame jujitsu spin.”

The “unforced error,” the Journal writes, was a result of Romney’s “fear of being labeled a flip-flopper.”

“Mr. Romney favored the individual mandate as part of his reform in Massachusetts, and as we’ve said from the beginning of his candidacy his failure to admit that mistake makes him less able to carry the anti-ObamaCare case to voters,” the editorial reads.  “This latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign’s insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity.  Mr. Obama is being hurt by an economic recovery that is weakening for the third time in three years.  But Mr. Romney hasn’t been able to take advantage, and if anything he is losing ground.”

The editorial advises Romney that if his campaign does not respond to the Obama campaign’s attacks on the candidate’s offshore accounts and allegations that he was an “outsourcer” during his time at private equity firm Bain Capital, that they should be “fired for malpractice.”

It concludes, “Mr. Romney promised Republicans he was the best man to make the case against President Obama, whom they desperately want to defeat.  So far Mr. Romney is letting them down.”

The Romney campaign has yet to respond to Thursday’s editorial.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Calls Individual Mandate a Tax, Contradicts His Top Aide

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney steered his campaign message back in line with other top Republicans on Wednesday, insisting that the health care law’s individual mandate that requires most Americans to buy health insurance was ”a tax.”

”The majority of the court said it is a tax, and therefore it is a tax,” Romney said in an interview with CBS Wednesday, citing the Supreme Court’s health law ruling last week that the individual mandate fell under the federal government’s authority to levy taxes and was therefore constitutional.

”They have spoken.  There’s no way around that.  You can try and say you wish they had decided a different way, but they didn’t,” he said.

Romney’s comments came days after his senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom rejected the notion that the individual mandate imposed a “tax,” saying instead that it was a “penalty.”

“The governor believes that what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty, and he disagrees with the court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax,” Fehrnstrom said in an interview on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown Monday.

Romney, who contradicted Fehrnstrom’s comments on Wednesday, picked up a line of attack that many of his fellow Republicans had already launched at the president after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“The American people know President Obama has broken the pledge he made,” Romney told CBS.  “He said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle Americans.  Not only did he raise the $500 billion that was already in the bill, it’s now clear that his mandate, as described by the Supreme Court, is a tax.”

Obama has called the price his health care law imposes on Americans who do not buy health insurance a “penalty.”

“It was set up as a penalty for people who choose not to buy insurance, even though they can afford it, and for that 1 percent, we call it fair,” White House chief of staff Jack Lew told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last Sunday.

Lew echoed similar comments Obama made in 2009 after Stephanopoulos asked the president if the mandate was a tax increase.

“I absolutely reject that notion,” Obama said during the 2009 interview.

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney championed a health care law that imposed a mandate similar to that in Obama’s health care law.  Romney has insisted that the mandate he supported in Massachusetts was good for the state, but would not be good for the country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Public Divides on Health Care Ruling, But Romney’s Plans Fall Shorter

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Americans divide on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the federal health care law and on President Obama’s plans for the health care system alike, while favorable views of Mitt Romney’s approach to health care fall shorter, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Just 30 percent of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of Romney’s approach to health care, while 47 percent see it negatively, putting him underwater on the issue by a 17-point margin.  Twenty-three percent are undecided, perhaps marking a lack of specifics by Romney on his plans -- but giving him an opportunity to persuade.

The public at the same time divides by 45-48 percent, favorable-unfavorable, in views of Obama’s plans for the health care system.  On one hand that’s clearly a weak score; on the other, it’s 15 percentage points better than Romney’s on the positive side, while essentially identical on the negative (with many fewer unsure -- 7 percent).

There’s a similar split on the high court’s ruling last week: This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that 43 percent of Americans see the law favorably overall, while 42 percent see it unfavorably.  That’s a closer division than existed on the law itself before the ruling -- 36-52 percent, positive-negative, in an ABC/Post poll early last week.  The difference is apparent disproportionately among Democrats.

A challenge for Romney, in addition to his weaker support overall, is the fact that critics of the Supreme Court ruling don’t flock to him as an alternative.  Among people who see the ruling unfavorably, Romney’s plans for the system get a tepid 45-36 percent positive rating.  Among those who see the ruling favorably, by contrast, 86 percent also see Obama’s plans favorably.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Reality of Repealing Obama's Health Care Law

MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Within minutes of the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the president's health care law on Thursday, both Congressional Republicans and the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, vowed to repeal the law as well.

But can they?

If Romney wins the White House, his power to gut or eliminate the law is severely limited without the help of Congress. And with slim odds that the GOP will win a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, congressional Republicans face a steep climb to repeal the president's signature law.

Such long odds have not deterred the law's opponents, though. After the Supreme Court ruled on the health care law, House Republicans quickly promised that they will once again act to repeal the law in its entirety July 11.

That vote is expected to pass easily, much like when the House first voted for repeal Jan. 19, 2011, approving the measure 245-189. House Republicans have already voted 30 times to disrupt, dismantle, defund and repeal provisions in the health care law. No similar attempts have passed in the Senate.

After Chief Justice John Roberts announced the decision Thursday morning, Mitt Romney rushed to the National Mall, with the Capitol Dome perched over his shoulder, to promise to repeal the law on Day One of a Romney presidency.

"What the court did not do in its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States," Romney pledged. "I will act to repeal Obamacare."

The "act" in Romney's sentence might be the key word. He cannot, as president, use an executive order to single-handedly repeal a law that was passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court. But there are three possible ways Romney could go after the Affordable Care Act using executive power, said Michael Dorf, a constitutional law scholar at Cornell Law School.

First, Romney could direct the departments charged with administering the law to grant the states any and all waivers that were written into the law. Because there aren't many of these waivers and those that do exist don't take effect for years, this method would not disable the law quickly enough to appease the GOP and meet his Day One timeframe.

Second, he could instruct his administration not to enforce the law. This tactic is similar to Obama's decision that his administration would no longer deport undocumented immigrants, "but on steroids," Dorf said.

"It's not that he would be prioritizing one part of the act above another, he would be saying he wouldn't do any of it," Dorf said.

Obama's immigration decision "was at the edge of what a president can do," he added. "What Romney would be proposing to do would go way beyond that."

Romney's third and most "radical" option, Dorf said, would be to assert an independent duty as president to act on his own interpretation of the Constitution, despite the Supreme Court's ruling. Thomas Jefferson was the last president to use this line of reasoning in 1801 when he refused to prosecute people under the Sedition Act, which made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government or certain officials.

While this option would be the most effective way to quickly and fully repeal the law, Doft said, it would be like "playing with fire."

"It is possible he could do it and get away with some of it, but it would be at the cost of sparking a Constitution crisis," Doft said.

The most likely, and politically feasible, scenario is that Romney will not try to act unilaterally and instead will use his presidential bully pulpit to encourage Congress to repeal the bill.

"He's not a hapless giant by any means," said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow emeritus at the Brookings Institution. "He's more powerful than any other single individual around, but it's a system that doesn't allow him to just go ahead and do away with a major act of Congress."

With 47 Republicans in the Senate and 60 votes required to repeal in the upper chamber, even a great night on Nov. 6, 2012, is unlikely to produce a filibuster-proof GOP Senate majority. When the Senate voted in early 2011 on repeal, the vote failed 47-51. Obviously, it will take convincing some Senate Democrats to cross party lines to repeal the bill in Congress.

If Republicans won a simple majority of 51 seats in the Senate, a more possible scenario, they could attempt to repeal the law using reconciliation, a procedural maneuver that would require a simple majority instead of 60 votes. But this long-shot would take time to concoct and would not meet Romney's "first day" timeframe.

Now, repeal has re-emerged as a top campaign issue for congressional Republicans, much like the 2010 midterm elections that swept Rep John. Boehner into the speaker's chair.

"It becomes a huge issue going forward to the election in November," Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told ABC on the steps of the court immediately after the decision was announced. "Barack Obama has had this around his neck for two and a half years. It will become an albatross around the neck of Barack Obama walking into November."

Asked why it is necessary for the House to act again on repeal, particularly when there are not enough votes in the Senate to repeal it, Boehner also said the Supreme Court's ruling will only act to strengthen his party's resolve this fall.

"The real outcome of today's decision is to strengthen our resolve to make sure that this law is in fact repealed," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "We're going to work every single day between now and Election Day, and the American people then will get an opportunity to make their decision on Election Day because elections have consequences. The election in 2008 clearly had a consequence that most Americans disagree with."

After Chief Justice Roberts made it clear that the individual mandate was within Congress's power to tax, Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign committee, said Republicans "will call it what it is" as they work to magnify the Democrats efforts to increase taxes.

"It is a tax," Sessions, R-Texas, told reporters in the Speaker's Lobby during votes. "Obama will be a one-term president as a result of this bill."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Camp Says It Outraised Romney After Supreme Court Ruling

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/PeteSouza/White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s campaign claims to have outraised Mitt Romney in online donations since the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold the president’s health law was handed down.

But they won’t say by how much.

Romney's campaign reports that they have received 47,000 donations to the sum of $4.6 million dollars in support of a repeal of the law, and that the number is still growing.  Those numbers do not factor in high profile New York fundraisers attended by Romney Thursday in New York at the residence of billionaire Martin Zweig and with Donald Trump.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt doesn’t give a number, but says the campaign raised more than that following the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The amounts will ultimately be a matter of public record when the campaigns are required to disclose their donors to the Federal Communications Commission.

So why not just give the details now?

“That’s not the point,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.  Democrats want to focus instead on their argument that Romney hasn’t offered specifics about how he would replace the law if elected.

“It’s perverse that Mitt Romney wont share details about what he’d do for the millions he’d leave uninsured or at the whims of insurance companies when he ‘kills Obamacare dead,’ but he’ll share the hourly details of his fundraising after the Supreme Court ruling,” said LaBolt.  “We’ve outraised the Romney campaign in that time period but that’s not the point -- our supporters are more committed than ever to ensuring that insurance companies can’t drop coverage for people who get sick or discriminate against people with preexisting conditions by reelecting the President.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney: There's Greater Urgency in Election After Health Care Ruling 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney said there is "greater urgency" in the election now following the decision by the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama's health care plan.

"What happened yesterday calls for greater urgency, I believe, in the election," Romney said speaking at a private fundraiser at a Manhattan restaurant -- his first remarks since his statement in Washington on Thursday.  "I think people recognize that if you want to replace Obamacare, you’ve got to replace President Obama."

"And the urgency of doing that is something which is galvanizing people across the county," Romney continued.  "I think many people assumed that the Supreme Court would do the work that was necessary in repealing Obamacare.  It did not get that job done."

Romney went on to say that the legislation will cost "$500 billion in taxes" and cut "Medicare by $500 billion" -- similar claims he made Thursday in the immediate aftermath of the decision.

That sense of "urgency" is also being touted by the campaign in fundraising numbers.

Since the decision was handed down, the Romney campaign reports that they have received 42,000 donations to the sum of $4.2 million dollars in support of a repeal of the law, and that the number is still growing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Predicts Sleepless Night in White House over Health Care Law

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(STERLING, Va.) -- On the eve of the Supreme Court’s decision as to whether President Obama’s health care law is constitutional, Mitt Romney bounded into the battleground state of Virginia and predicted a sleepless night in the White House.

“[It's] very clear that a big decision is coming tomorrow for the Supreme Court,” said Romney at a raucous rally in northern Virginia Wednesday evening.  “My guess is they’re not sleeping real well at the White House tonight.  That’s the way it ought to be."

“And this is a decision, by the way, about whether or not ‘Obamacare’ is constitutional,” he continued.  “Whether it passes constitutional muster.  And so we’re all waiting to see how the court will decide.  One thing we already know, however, we already know it’s bad policy and it’s gotta go.”

Romney, who on Tuesday said that Obama’s term would be “wasted” if his signature plan is struck down by the nation’s highest court, said on Wednesday that if the plan is ruled unconstitutional, some of his own work will be taken care of for him.

“And so if the court upholds it, if they say, look, it passes the constitution, it still is bad policy and that’ll mean if I’m elected we are going to repeal and replace it,” said Romney, who spoke to a notably energetic crowd of hundreds at an electrical manufacturer.  “And if, on the other hand, the court strikes it down, they’ll be doing some of my work for me, I won’t have to repeal it, but I still will have to replace it and I will!

“So for these among many other reasons, whatever the Supreme Court does tomorrow, one thing we know: If I’m elected president, we’re gonna get rid of ‘Obamacare’ and replace it with real reform,” he said, not delving into what said “real reform” would entail.

Romney, who unexpectedly appeared alongside Gov. Bob McDonnell, a man some say may be considered as the candidate’s running mate, continued to paint the White House as a home that will soon be filled with insomniacs, adding, “There are going to be a lot of sleepless nights at the White House over the next few months because the president’s in a tight spot."

“He’s in a tight spot because of ‘Obamacare’ and the fact the American people don’t want it and the more they learn about it, the less they like it,” Romney said.  “He’s in a tight spot because he hasn’t done what he said he’d do.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio