Romney Backer Norm Coleman: ‘You Will Never Repeal’ Health Reform ‘In Its Entirety’

Mitt Romney has been running around the country trying to convince Republican voters that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act on “day one.” “Now, there are some programs I just don’t like and would be easy to eliminate like Obamacare,” Romney told a town hall audience in Exeter, New Hampshire this past November. “And that saves about $90 billion, Obamacare alone, by 2016.”

But this morning, Romney backer and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) threw cold water on Romney’s claim and “predicted the GOP won’t repeal the Democrats’ healthcare reform law even if a Republican candidate defeats President Obama this November”:

You will not repeal the act in its entirety, but you will see major changes, particularly if there is a Republican president,” Coleman told BioCentury This Week television in interview that aired on Sunday. “You can’t whole-cloth throw it out. But you can substantially change what’s been done.” […]

“If there’s a Republican president, what you’ll see is states getting waivers … granted and then starting again, making sure that we lower costs, which this act hasn’t done, while we provide better access,” Coleman said.

Still, he said, the law “may collapse” on its own if the Supreme Court strikes down the requirement that everyone have insurance. “I don’t think the act works financially … if you don’t have the individual mandate, because your costs are going to go so far through the roof.”

Indeed, as a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report has concluded, a president cannot thwart the will of Congress by simply exempting states from the measure and would not be able to use the law’s waivers to excuse local governments from all of its requirements.

Romney has also offered to undo the law through the Senate’s reconciliation process, if Republicans fail to garner the 60 votes necessary to block a filibuster. But some core parts of the law “are not dependent on annual budgeting” and cannot be included in a reconciliation package. As a result, Romney would have to peal back provisions of the law piece by piece, injecting great havoc into the health insurance markets and destabilizing coverage for many Americans who are already benefiting from reform.

Interestingly, Coleman — whose American Action Network “has urged the courts to strike down the law’s individual mandate and its Medicaid expansion” — is not the only former Republican senator to walk back the GOP’s repeal claims. Former Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has broken with his party to support many provisions of health care reform and has publicly stated that it will survive its legal challenges. “I think what we’re going to see now is no more legislation but a demand for implementation of all these in an improved modernized way through partnerships and I’m very hopeful, based on both the most recent legislation but also the incentives of the system, that all of that centers on value that is quality and outcomes and results for dollar invested,” he said during an interview in September.