Is the GOP Victory in the House a Boon for Obamacare?

Side note: The GOP resurgence in Congress could actually lead to improving Obamacare. As the Republican Party reclaims its voice in congress they are presented with the opportunity to make constructive changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Those expecting the GOP to attempt a repeal of PPACA will be greatly disappointed. Instead look for the Republicans to champion the popular parts of the bill such as the insurance company mandate to cover existing conditions and the raising of the cut of date for child dependency to 26. These components of the bill are too popular and any attempt to repeal them would be political suicide. Instead look for Republicans to implement medical malpractice tort reform and block the increased spending for Medicaid.

PRESIDENT OBAMA threw down the gauntlet Wednesday on Republicans’ cries for dismantling the health reform law passed this year. Do the Republicans, he asked, want to go back to letting insurers deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition? Do the Republicans want to end the new law’s aid for the elderly caught in the Medicare doughnut hole on drug reimbursements?

Of course, the Republicans won’t take on these popular features of the law. Nor will they do away with the mandate on individuals to get coverage — the insurers insist on it in order to have enough healthy people in the insured pool to make it affordable to cover the less-than-healthy with preexisting conditions. Some Republicans talk about cutting funding for the reform. But the big outlays will not come until 2014 when the law goes into full effect. In the meantime, does the GOP really want to block, for instance, the $5 billion set aside to fund a high-risk insurance pool for the uninsured with pre-existing conditions until 2014 when private insurers have to cover them?

Still, there is a way for the Republicans to improve on the law — by strengthening its anemic effort to reform this country’s dysfunctional medical-malpractice system. The current system fosters costly defensive medicine, provides benefits to too few deserving victims of physicians’ mistakes, forces doctors in many specialties to buy high-premium insurance policies, and discourages the open reporting of treatment errors, even though such information could lead to genuine improvements in medical care.

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