As a political lightning rod, President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act took more than a few strikes in Tuesday’s election. But the act likely will remain the law of the land, despite the Republican Party’s electoral success Tuesday, when the GOP strengthened its hold on the U.S. House of Representatives and gained control of the senate for the coming session, members of the state delegation and a Monmouth University pollster say.
A two-thirds vote of the members present in both the Senate and House is required to override a presidential veto. With Republicans set to take 52 of the Senate’s 100 seats, and 244 in the House — about 58 percent — they won’t have the numbers to override.
Repealing the medical device tax, a section of the law that imposes a 2.3-percent surcharge on the sale of medical devices, would be a place to start, Byers said. Numerous Democrats support repealing the tax as a burden on business, even though a recent Inspector General report found that the IRS was failing to make sure companies were reporting and paying the tax.
Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Tom MacArthur, who will represent the 3rd District in south Jersey, said he prefers scrapping the law and replacing it with a market-driven model, said consultant Chris Russell. MacArthur wants replacement plans to preserve popular parts of Obamacare, such as prohibiting the use of pre-existing conditions as a means to deny coverage.
The two new incoming Democrats said they also are willing to listen to reform suggestions. Democrat Donald Norcross in south Jersey’s 1st District said the law’s “Cadillac tax” needs fixing, as well as mandates requiring employers to provide coverage to their workers or pay fines. The Cadillac Tax is a surcharge on health insurance plans that provide the richest benefits to consumers. “Obviously, campaign rhetoric is often followed by the reality of being able to govern,” Norcross said, adding that Democrats owe Republicans some time to present their legislative proposals.
Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman, who will be the state’s first African-American congresswoman and will represent central Jersey’s 12th District, also cited the Cadillac Tax for amending. In addition, Watson Coleman said another section of the law that forced some families to drop CHIP coverage for children, which in many cases was cheaper and more comprehensive than their ACA plans, should be fixed. CHIP is a public children’s health insurance program for low-income families.
Democratic Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., representing the 10th District covering Essex, Hudson and Union counties, also is willing to amend the law, spokeswoman Tiffany Haas said. However, Republican proposals to this point have been attempts at dismantling it, she said.
That’s where U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a Republican, remains, spokesman Jason Galanes said. “If the party puts it up for repeal, he will vote for repeal,” Galanes said.
LoBiondo will return to Washington for an 11th term representing the 2nd District after crushing Democrat Bill Hughes Jr. in the vote Tuesday.
In a post-election press conference Wednesday, Obama said repeal attempts are non-starters. “Repeal of the law, I won’t sign,” he said. “Efforts that would take away health care from the 10 million people who now have it and the millions more who are eligible to get it, we’re not going to support.”
For example, the individual mandate in the law, requiring most adults to have health insurance, is not on the table, despite Republicans’ opposition to it, he said. Taking the mandate away would allow healthy people to “game the system” and avoid having to pay for coverage until they’re sick, Obama said.
Use the “See plans and prices” option at http://healthcare.gov and you answer just a couple of questions and can look at all the plans available to you. The good news is that in some areas, there seem to be a lot more options than there were last year. So even if you have a plan, it’s worth looking to see if another better option is available.