Republicans aren’t going to repeal “ObamaCare” in the next four years, but there’s still plenty of room for both political fights and policy changes.
Republicans have begun over the past two weeks to acknowledge — albeit grudgingly — that President Obama’s reelection took repeal off the table for the next four years. Conservatives have responded by stepping up the pressure on Republican governors to stand in the law’s way as much as possible at the state level, and governors do have considerable power over how the law is implemented.
In Washington, deflated partisan rancor over the Affordable Care Act could be a blessing to industry groups with smaller, more targeted complaints about the law. Republican lawmakers and healthcare lobbyists say smaller fixes are more realistic if every minor issue doesn’t blow up into a full-scale war over ObamaCare, and the appetite for that war is finally starting to wane.
Repeal, or a different outcome at the Supreme Court, would have satisfied both groups of opponents. But for all the talk about how repeal isn’t realistic over the next four years, it also wasn’t very realistic over the past two. And if the volume of the “ObamaCare” debate dies down, Congress might be more likely to address smaller issues with a real impact on coverage and costs.