The House has cleared the way for a vote to repeal the new health reform law with a bill called "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” (H.R. 2). The vote on H.R. 2 was originally scheduled for January 12, but has been postponed to January 19 due to the Arizona shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). The push for full repeal of the health care law is considered largely symbolic and still very much a long shot. The House vote will be the first, easiest step in the process. Then, it is likely that the Democrat controlled Senate would stop the bill. Meanwhile, the White House has vowed to veto H.R. 2 even if it makes it to the President's desk for signature.
As repeal is very unlikely at this stage, many believe that for now the real action is in the states, where Republicans are using federal courts and governors' offices to lead the fight against health reform. Shortly before the House vote, Republican governors representing 30 states sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders complaining that provisions of the health care law are restricting their ability to control Medicaid spending, raising the threat of cuts to other critical programs, such as education and law enforcement. A ruling is also expected shortly in a lawsuit brought by 20 states that challenges the law's central requirement that most Americans carry health insurance. A judge in Virginia ruled it unconstitutional last month, while courts in two other cases have upheld it. It's expected that the Supreme Court will ultimately have to resolve the issue.
For now, by revisiting the health reform mandate, House Republicans are showing their continued commitment to taking a stand and keeping the promises they made during recent elections. Republicans are positioning themselves to push for new solutions and legislative changes that will eliminate what is not good, keep what is good, and add in what needs to be done that is not currently there. Repeal proponents acknowledge it may take the election of a Republican president in 2012 to fully accomplish the Republican goals.
Employers are advised to continue to monitor health reform developments and proceed with implementation as there is still much to do. Health reform isn't going anywhere, at least not for a while. Should you have questions about this or any aspect of federal health insurance reform, contact your Conner Strong account representative toll free at 1-877-861-3220. For a complete list of Legislative Updates issued by Conner Strong, visit our online Resource Center.