“Backward” – Wisconsin’s new motto for health care?
Now that the 2010 midterm elections are over, it’s clear the next two years will be spent fighting over what to do with health reform.
U.S. Rep. John Boehner, the Ohio Republican destined to become the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has vowed that his party’s attention will now turn to repealing President Obama’s health care reform law. That might be easier said than done, especially since the parts of the law already in place are extremely popular.
Obama, who acknowledged Tuesday’s election was his political “shellacking,” said in his post-election press conference that he would be happy to consider Republicans’ ideas for improving the health care system. If Republicans have any good proposals, Obama said, he’d like to hear them.
And so we wait.
At least one prominent Republican, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, thinks his party should rethink its strategy to repeal health reform. Thompson, who served as President George W. Bush’s secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), knows plenty about the politics of health care.
“When it’s all said and done, you’re not going to be able to repeal health care because President Obama is not going to sign it,” Thompson said in an interview last week on CNBC.
Thompson also noted that because so many details of the law have yet to be worked out by HHS, it will be tough for the law’s opponents to stand behind dumping the entire law.
“The overall health care (debate) is going to have to take a wait-and-see attitude before all the rules are done and drafted. And that’s going to take a lot of months of drafting and hearings and so on,” Thompson said. “So, more of the health care process is going to be taking place on the administrative side of government rather than on the legislative wing.”
Other health news blogs and websites say Republicans will use their new power as House committee chairs to hold up funding key portions of the health law.
Republicans who won state houses and governors’ races will have an even better shot at holding up health care reform. Wisconsin Gov.-Elect Scott Walker has promised to do just that, and with a Republican Legislature now behind him, he’s more likely to succeed.
During the campaign, Walker promised that as governor he will join 20 other states that have sued the federal government to stop the new health law’s implementation. The suit says the law’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance by 2014 is unconstitutional.
It’s ironic that Walker, whose political career evolved under Tommy Thompson’s reign as governor, now wants to reduce BadgerCare, which Thompson started as part of welfare reform. The idea behind BadgerCare’s invention was to give the uninsured working poor access to an affordable health plan.
Currently, most Wisconsin residents have access to health insurance, and BadgerCare is an important part of the reason why. As Wisconsin struggles to move forward from the worst economic recession in decades, it would be a shame if we now move backward on access to health care.