GOP’s Latest Proxy Battle in the Health Care War: Medicare/Medicaid Nominee’s Confirmation

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 5:33 pm

From the moment President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have been vocal about their intention to repeal the bill, despite the fact that repeal is virtually impossible — odds are extraordinarily slim that Republicans can assemble the 67 Senate votes needed to repeal health care reform in the Senate and override a presidential veto — and the public doesn’t seem very receptive to it. To say nothing of the 30-plus seats Republicans would have to win to repeal health care reform in the House, and the 90-plus votes necessary to override a veto.

But Republicans, it seems, are feeling very lucky. So much so that they plan to use the upcoming confirmation fight over Dr. Donald Berwick, Obama’s nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid, to continue the argument against health care reform:

Hospital executives who have worked with Dr. Berwick describe him as a visionary, inspiring leader.

But a battle has erupted over his nomination, suggesting that Dr. Berwick faces a long uphill struggle to win Senate confirmation.  Republicans are using the nomination to revive their arguments against the new health care law, which they see as a potent issue in this fall’s elections, and Dr. Berwick has given them plenty of ammunition.

The GOP is going to win seats this November regardless of the arguments they use, but I think they’ll be surprised at how unreceptive voters are to the repeal language, especially as the more popular provisions come into effect. Indeed, the most recent poll on the Affordable Care Act’s popularity — an Associated Press-GfK poll released last week — shows growing support for the bill. And as November approaches, and Democrats begin to sell their accomplishments, it’s likely that support will continue to increase.

Follow Jamelle Bouie on Twitter


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As more of the initiatives of the health reform bill become active, Republicans will have more pressure to offer an alternative health reform bill rather than have all of their supporters content to simply support repeal of what is in place now. Add to this that the insurers are trying to pass large increases in health insurance rates and repeal by itself will seem more and more to be an incomplete approach.


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