Romney’s Bid to Undo Health Law Faces Hurdles

An analysis in the Washington Times finds that if Mitt Romney wins the White House, he’s more likely to set up roadblocks to President Obama’s health care law than to wipe it off the books or even block it by issuing waivers, as he’s promised.

For one thing, Republicans have little chance of seizing enough Senate seats for the filibuster-proof, 60-seat majority. Romney would need to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. Republicans do have a shot at gaining a simple majority in the Senate, which could allow them to ditch most of the law through the budget-reconciliation process, which is one of the few legislative vehicles that can’t be blocked by a filibuster.

He could rewrite some of the rules the Obama administration has already handed down, like changing the list of preventive services insurance plans must cover without co-pays including contraception. Sylvia Law, a health law professor at New York University told the Washington Times, “Romney could undo that in a flash. He could just say, ‘Sorry, contraception is a lifestyle choice, and insurance companies don’t have to cover it.’” GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan said, “When Mitt Romney is president, this mandate will be gone. That’s a fact.”

Romney has vowed to issue an executive order his first day in office waiving states from having to comply with the rules for the federally mandated health exchanges, but his legal authority to do so is questionable. The law doesn’t allow such waivers to be granted until 2017, but some lawmakers have introduced legislation to move that date up earlier.

And then there’s the option of simply directing his administration to procrastinate on putting the legislation into effect. An obvious target could be the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a new board charged with reducing Medicare costs, but which Republicans complain will cut payments to doctors. “Those folks have not been appointed [to the board]. He could just decline to implement it, and it would be very hard to challenge,” Law said.Other presidents have done the same thing with laws they didn’t like, said Roderick Hills, a constitutional law professor at New York University.

Last Updated 05/25/2022

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