Is It Real or Is It Repeal

January 17, 2011

The House is scheduled this week to vote on repealing Obamacare. Many new and returning politicians promised during their campaign that they would work to repeal the law, and they understandably want to get right to it. Obamacare will have a huge impact on our lives and I feel it is especially important to outline RetireSafe’s position on the repeal of Obamacare.

It is the consensus in Washington, and almost a guarantee, that this law will not be repealed between now and January, 2013. Let me tell you why. With their new-found majority, the Republicans in the House will very likely pass the bill to repeal the law. But then, the repeal faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The Democrat majority in the Senate will most likely use Senate procedures to prevent the legislation from even coming to the floor for a vote. We can all remember the tricks they used to pass Obamacare in the first place. The Senate Republicans want to get a vote on the record and they may well try to accomplish that by attaching repeal as an amendment on another bill. Some hard-line Republicans want to attach it to very important funding legislation to, as the Democrats characterize the move, “hold the Senate hostage.” In the end, a very close and difficult repeal vote may occur in the Senate. But even if it passes, the President has promised to veto it and neither House of Congress appears to have the votes to override the veto.

So why are our government leaders spending time on this process? While it is important to have a dialog and to continue to keep the bad parts of this bill in the front of the American people, the biggest reason is politics, the need by politicians to get re-elected. Getting elected and re-elected is not a bad thing and depending on the elections in two years, Americans, especially older Americans, may see a different focus in Washington. But politics and reality are often not related – second cousins at best. This brings us to RetireSafe’s position on this issue.

One of the very basic responsibilities I have as President of RetireSafe is to use your donations in the most effective manner possible. I need to advance the goals of this organization as far as I can with the resources I have. In short, I need to get the “biggest bang for the buck.” As good as it would be to start over on health care reform, the reality of the situation is that the repeal of Obamacare probably isn’t going to happen in the next two years. What will happen is the development of regulations that can have a huge impact on how this legislation is implemented, both good and bad. There may be efforts to amend parts of the law to add good features and to eliminate the bad features. RetireSafe will continue to take an active role in that process to protect older Americans. That is the reality that we see. We are not shackled by politics and it would be a waste of scarce resources to get sucked into that political vortex. There are good parts of this bill; the closing of the Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole and the focus on preventative care are two parts that we need. There are ways that we can shape the law to give the states more power in choosing and developing their insurance exchanges. We also need to be focused on stopping the bad parts of this bill, through amendments, changes in regulation, or through targeted appropriation cuts, before they hurt seniors. We have to stop changes that will hurt Medicare, and we have to support changes that will make it stronger and better.

We can’t get caught up in the rhetoric and glamour of the politics and ignore the day-to-day battle in the trenches that is really going to dictate the overall impact of this bill on older Americans.

While it would be great to start over, the reality dictates that we use our resources to champion the good parts and disable the bad parts of Obamacare. That’s RetireSafe’s goal.