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Is The GOP Finally Conceding In The Debate Over Health Care Reform?


Over the past week, two high-ranking congressional Republicans have (reluctantly) expressed sentiments that suggest the GOP may be slowly conceding in the now years-long debate over health care reform.

In an interview with The Spokesman-Review published Friday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the number four ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, said the Affordable Care Act likely won’t be repealed.

McMorris Rodgers said President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is probably here to stay, so Republicans should focus on other issues.

“We need to look at reforming the exchanges,” the Republican conference chairwoman said.

Her comments mark a departure from the GOP mission of repealing the law in its entirety. House Republicans have voted to repeal or change the legislation over 50 times in the last four years. Few of the bills have gained traction in the Senate.

There are signs that other GOP leaders may be starting to slowly accept the reality that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. Last Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) conceded that repealing President Obama’s signature health reform law “isn’t the answer,” saying it’s too late to roll back all of the changes in the insurance industry over the past several years.

“Obamacare is the law of the land. It is there and it has driven all types of changes in our health care delivery system. You can’t recreate an insurance market overnight,” Boehner told a group of his constituents at a Rotary Club meeting in his home district.

While a spokesperson for Boehner downplayed the comments, telling Roll Call, “For four years now the House Republican position has been repeal-and-replace,” the truth is that the Republican position on health care has grown increasingly inconsistent.

Republicans in the House have repeatedly promised to introduce a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, 455679999_obamacare_label_8_xlargeeven suggesting that it will be able to preserve the ACA’s most popular provisions — but that plan hasn’t materialized yet. Congressional Republicans have started to show their frustration that the GOP has not been able to unify around one plan for health care reform, and even Fox News recently called Republicans out for their lack of action on health care.

If House Speaker Boehner has done anything consistently, it’s been his inconsistent messaging on health care reform. As MSNBC reports, Boehner has sent some very mixed messages over the past few years:

  • In 2011, Boehner tried several times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  •  In 2012, shortly after the national elections, Boehner suggested he was done trying to repeal the law. “It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected,” he said. “Obamacare is the law of the land.”
  •  In 2013, Boehner returned to trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and even shut down the federal government in part over ill-defined opposition to the law.
  • In 2014, just a few weeks after saying his caucus will keep up its repeal crusade, Boehner has returned to the realization that the ACA is “the law of the land” and full repeal “isn’t the answer.”

While it may be unpopular among Congressional Republicans, Boehner’s underlying message remains intact, reinforcing the slow – but inevitable – shift in the debate over health care reform.

“Between all of the positive news surrounding implementation of the law, the remarkable enrollment data, Democrats starting to look at the law as a political benefit, Republicans hedging on ACA issues like Medicaid expansion, and the nation’s top GOP lawmaker abandoning full repeal as “the answer,” Obamacare proponents finally have the wind at the their backs,” writes MSNBC.

Meanwhile, enrollment in Obamacare plans has topped 8 million, and public opinion is rapidly improving — even in Republican districts.

Still, some Republicans are hanging on to the rhetoric and reaffirming their commitment to punish millions of newly insured Americans by repealing the health care law with no replacement.

Obama himself has chided the GOP for wasting time and resources on repeal efforts.

“Republicans have voted more than 50 times to undermine or repeal health care for millions of Americans,” Obama said during his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “They should vote at least once to raise the minimum wage for millions of working families.”

But, as the President noted just two weeks ago, the GOP may be slow to accept the law because they are still working through their “stages of grief.”

For the sake of the American people, let’s hope their grieving period doesn’t last through the rest of Obama’s presidency.


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