Monday, November 8, 2010

Election’s over, what’s next for health reform?

Now that the mid-term elections are over, many people are wondering what’ll happen with recently-enacted health reform legislation. The Republicans have been talking about trying to “repeal and replace” or attempting to defund the law. However, starting in 2011, they control the House but not the U.S. Senate or the presidency.

After the election, President Obama has suggested that he would be open to tweaking the legislation. He cites the 1099 provision in the law as something that “appears to be too burdensome for small businesses” and is an example of something that should be looked at. Likely new House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) pledged “we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common-sense reforms that'll bring down the cost of health insurance.”

Of course, no one can really tell what the future holds but here's a sampling of what some experts think about the future of health reform.

A benefits consultant’s view. From a leading employee benefits consultant, Towers Watson, there’s this:

“The results of the 2010 midterm elections have important implications for health care reform implementation. Repealing the health care reform law was a popular promise on the campaign trail, but repeal — and even significant change — is unlikely while President Obama wields the veto pen. Nevertheless, health care reform will remain a leading issue for the new Congress, creating an uncertain environment for employers as they plan for implementation of the law’s major provisions in 2014.”

Towers Watson also suggests that, while repealing health care reform is not likely, the law will remain in the spotlight. “Expect the new Republican majority in the House to increase oversight of the regulatory and implementation process, attempt to deny the funding needed to implement and enforce the law, and work to increase opposition to the law leading into the 2012 elections.”

A former health insurance industry insider’s view. Wendell Potter, a health insurance industry insider who helped plan the industry’s public relations/public policy strategies, is doubtful that health reform legislation will be repealed, according to an interview in Newsweek. Among other things, Potter says that “despite all the attacks on `Obamacare,’ the new law props up the employer-based system that insurers and large corporations benefit from so greatly.”

An economist’s view. According to the Incidental Economist blog, it’s doubtful that health reform will be repealed, pointing out that “there’s a big difference between campaigning and legislating.” In 2012, they say, the “slogan on healthcare is `Repeal and Replace!’ but that’s not a plausible bill because it won’t satisfy the interest groups. Nor can it pass.”

Now what? As we at Health Reform Talk said so often during the legislative process, only time will tell what the future will bring. Let’s just wait and see.

For more information. For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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