Daily Editors' Notes

Odds don't favor another round of Obamacare

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John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
The Supreme Court may be two months away from announcing whether President Barack Obama's health care law is legal.  But court watchers are already speculating on what will happen if the measure is overturned.

Officially, the White House is turning a deaf ear to such talk.

"We're confident that the law is constitutional and we are moving forward with implementation," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced. But is that really the full story? If the measure is repealed, won't the administration simply craft a new bill that Chief Justice John Roberts can live with?

That's certainly one option. But it would be a politically risky move. For one thing, the healthcare law barely passed when the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress. Even so, a legendary amount of arm-twisting and horse-trading was required.

These days, Republicans control the House and are planning to gain a majority in the Senate. And if you haven't noticed, the two sides seem to be spending a lot more time swapping barbs than compliments.

It's also worth noting that the conversation has changed. The health law was passed at a time when many people felt insurance companies were gouging employers and consumers — when the insurers weren't denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. These days, the only issue that seems to matter is whether people can be required to purchase health insurance policies. Seems to me those are very different discussions.

But beyond the rhetoric, scant attention is being paid to this simple fact: The health law is a statistical outlier. About 95% of the bills introduced in Congress between 1999 and 2010 were never enacted. For the 8,000 or so bills introduced during the current session, the percent is even lower, according to Thomas.gov.

So it may be true the White House is fighting to preserve the health law on its merits. But it's also apparent that Obamacare 2.0 is simply not going to happen.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Staff Writer Tim Mullaney on Tuesday, Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday and Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Thursday.


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