After President Obama’s decisive re-election, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) starkly admitted that “Obamacare is the law of the land.” Facing backlash from fellow Republicans and critics of the landmark health reform law, the Speaker’s office softened that stance, asserting that “full repeal” still remained the GOP objective. But with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the bulk of the law, Democratic control of the Senate, and President Obama’s victory, some have wondered what — if any — recourse Republicans have at the federal level to undo Obamacare.
On Tuesday, Boehner explained how, exactly, Republicans would go about dismantling the law in an op-ed on Cincinnati.com. In his piece, Boehner contends that House Republicans will conduct “vigorous oversight” of the law’s implementation in an effort to neuter its provisions:
The tactics of our repeal efforts will have to change. But the strategic imperative remains the same. If we’re serious about getting our economy moving again, solving our debt and restoring prosperity for American families, we need to repeal Obamacare and enact common-sense, step-by-step reforms that start with lowering the cost of health care. [...]
Congress has a constitutional responsibility to conduct thorough oversight of the executive branch, and congressional oversight will play a critical role in repealing Obamacare going forward.
Over the past couple of years, I have noted there are essentially three major routes to repeal of the president’s law: the courts, the presidential election process and the congressional oversight process. With two of those three routes having come up short, the third and final one becomes more important than ever.
Vigorous oversight of the health care law by the House can be expected and, in fact, is already under way. The House Ways & Means Committee recently issued a subpoena directing that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services turn over any and all information regarding how taxpayer dollars have been used to promote Obamacare.
“Oversight,” as Boehner uses it, is basically a code word for obstruction. This isn’t exactly surprising — after the election, ThinkProgress reported that the GOP would still try to stall Obamacare implementation through a combination of holding up the law’s funding for Americans’ insurance subsidies and statewide insurance exchanges, Republican governors’ refusals to expand their states’ Medicaid pools, and GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare’s revenue sources and cost-containment measures, such as its taxes on large medical device manufacturers and the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
Although Boehner does not mention any such specifics in his op-ed, in the absence of a way to fully repeal the law, these are the types of provisions that the GOP will most likely conduct their “oversight” on. But recent polls have shown that public support for repealing Obamacare is plummeting, making such GOP tactics a waste of time at best and bad policy for Americans’ health and financial security at worst.