1. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, admitted the Administration didn't anticipate the continued opposition to Obamacare after it was passed.
Scott Malone of Reuters reported that "many voters have balked over concerns the law will raise healthcare costs and increase government involvement in their personal decisions."
At an event at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Sebelius said:
The politics has been relentless and that continues. There was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July and then once an election occurred there would be a sense that, 'This is the law of the land, let's get on board, let's make this work.' And yet we will find ourselves having state by state political battles.
Many Republican governors and legislators are refusing to implement Obamacare, but Sebelius may have had reason to believe the Republican leadership in Congress would not seriously fight Obamacare.
A previous issue of this newsletter reported that, shortly after the 2012 elections, "House Speaker John Boehner indicated he would probably give up the fight against Obamacare, saying it 'is the law of the land'."
The strongly negative reaction to Boehner's statement of surrender caused an apparent about-face. A later issue of this newsletter reported that he wrote a letter to the Republican members of the House which stated:
As I also said last week, the president's health care law--which adds a massive, expensive, unworkable government program at a time when our debt already exceeds the size of our whole economy--must remain on the table. The president's re-election means it's the law of the land at the moment--but we can't afford Obamacare, and we can't afford to leave it intact.
I've long maintained that there are three possible routes to repeal of Obamacare: the courts, the presidential election, and our constitutional responsibility for oversight. With two of them having come up short, the third and final of these becomes more important than ever.
Of course, as long as President Obama remains in office, it will be impossible to repeal his health care law in its entirety. But it is definitely possible that parts of the law could be repealed, or at least substantially modified, to make them less harmful.
A recent issue of this newsletter reported that an amendment to the Senate Budget by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to repeal the Obamacare tax of 2.3% on medical devices was passed 79-20 with 34 Democrats voting with the 45 Republicans.
We explained the amendment "removes the revenue from the tax, $29 Billion, to fund Obamacare for budgetary purposes, but a separate bill must be enacted to actually repeal the tax."
However, so far, the House has done nothing with HR 523, by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and 212 cosponsors, to repeal the medical devices tax.
It is certain this bill could easily pass the House any time the Republican leadership wanted to pass it. If it arrives in the Senate early enough in the 113th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) might have to permit a vote on it--and it would pass. But if the bill doesn't pass the House until later in the session, when time begins to run out, Reid could plausibly claim the Senate couldn't get to it.
The situation is similar with legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the rationing board in Obamacare. As of now, no action has been taken on HR 351, the Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act, by Rep. David Roe (R-TN) and 146 cosponsors.
This bill passed the House in the 112th Congress and has significant support from Democrats as well as Republicans. It could pass the House any time the Republican leadership wanted. Sending the bill to the Senate as soon as possible would put pressure on Reid to allow a vote on it. Waiting to pass it would give Reid a good excuse not to bring it up.
While Boehner may be "pulling his punches" on Obamacare in the House, conservatives continue to wage an active war against the law at the state level. The Associated Press reported that, in the south, there is "a near-solid block against Obamacare."
2. In Kentucky, Tea Party Leader David Adams (pictured) has filed a lawsuit against Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, who has attempted to create a state health exchange under Obamacare through an executive order without approval from the legislature.
Kentucky is one of only 17 states that have established the state exchanges.
The Associated Press reported, "Beshear ordered the creation of the Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange to help more than 600,000 uninsured Kentuckians arrange coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act."
While there appears to be no legal basis for Beshear to set up the exchanges, his spokeswoman, Kerri Richardson, said the Governor "exercised the constitutional authority afforded the office."
Adams was the campaign manager for Senator Rand Paul in 2010.
3. The Administration is delaying until 2015 the Small Business Health Options Program that was intended to help the employees in small businesses.
Robert Pear in the New York Times reported:
Unable to meet tight deadlines in the new health care law, the Obama administration is delaying parts of a program intended to provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees--a major selling point for the health care legislation.
The law calls for a new insurance marketplace specifically for small businesses, starting next year. But in most states, employers will not be able to get what Congress intended: the option to provide workers with a choice of health plans. They will instead be limited to a single plan.
This choice option, already available to many big businesses, was supposed to become available to small employers in January. But administration officials said they would delay it to 2015 in the 33 states where the federal government will be running insurance markets known as exchanges. And they will delay the requirement for other states as well…
The administration cited "operational challenges" as a reason for the delay.
We are now seeing weekly examples of this Administration's inability to govern…
One thing is clear: Obamacare will fail if he doesn't start paying more attention to the details of implementation, if he doesn't start demanding action…
Sooner or later, the Democrats may come to understand that making it run efficiently is the prerequisite for maintaining power.
The previous issue of What's Happening with Seniors Benefits: Grassroots Democrats Begin to Oppose Obamacare
The previous issue What's Happening with Conservatives and the Tea Party: Immigration Reform is Too Complex to be Rushed
Previous issues of both newsletters.
Follow Art Kelly on Twitter @ArthurKellyJr