Health Care Act

Real changes in Obamacare are coming, analyst says

Originally published Jan. 15, 2015.

Last year’s GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act were mostly political theater, but expect to see this year’s Republican-dominated Congress make significant changes, College of Charleston Professor Jordan Ragusa writes in the Christian Science Monitor’s DC Decoder.

“Don’t be surprised to see Republicans succeed in the 114th Congress modifying or even repealing some elements of the Affordable Care Act this session. In fact, I think it’s an inevitability,” Ragusa writes.

I see a lot of forecasts about repeal and/or modification, many of which are based on the writers’ beliefs about the act dubbed Obamacare. Ragusa seems to be a genuine Congressional process wonk who teaches courses about Congress and writes a blog called Rule 22, a title based on a Senate rule regarding filibuster.

Regardless of the political passions swirling around the ACA, full repeal of any complex legislation is rare, he writes. Thus, last year’s repeal votes were mostly about staking out a position, rather than changing the law.

But this year’s session started with House bills to modify specific parts of the act, by exempting veterans from the employer mandate tally and increasing the number of hours workers can put in without being eligible for mandatory coverage from employers. That approach has a much bigger chance of success, Ragusa says.

“What’s important here is that, even if Republicans are successful in their repeals efforts, it’s likely that major elements of Obamacare will remain in place. Indeed, some aspects of the law are incredibly popular,” he adds.

So there's good news and bad for both parties. Ragusa also notes that an analysis of repeal trends in all types of landmark legislation since the 1950s indicates that the peak risk comes 10 years after passage. That would be four years from now. Next week, he says, he’ll post more about specific factors affecting the chances of repeal.