Nov 30, 2014
Revisiting some of the more memorable quotes on Obamacare throughout recent years, and what last month’s elections mean for the future of the Affordable Care Act.
No aspect of the Affordable Care Act was directly up for vote during the 2014 Midterm Elections. However, the future of President Obama’s healthcare reform was undoubtedly affected by the outcome. With the Republican Party taking control of the U.S. Senate and increasing their majority in the House of Representatives, as well as dominating state governor’s races, Obamacare is expected to face some minor adjustments. While repealing or reversing the ACA is nearly impossible, says NationalJournal, we should expect to see changes made to some subsidiary elements.
Photo by: ryot
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the major impact will be on the Affordable Care Act’s provisions for state-level Medicaid expansions. A 2012 Supreme Court decision ruled that states weren’t required to expand Medicaid, and 22 states have exercised their right not to. The 2014 Midterm elections included six governors’ races that featured a chance for a state that hadn’t already expanded Medicaid to presumably do so with a change of power in office. Those states included Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, and Wisconsin. However, five of the six races ended with a Republican victory, dramatically lowering the likelihood of a Medicaid expansion for each respective state. The only state that didn’t was Alaska, which was won by Bill Walker, former Republican turned Independent.
Another area that could be in store for severe modifications is the federal budget, where Republicans are expected to propose a major reduction in healthcare spending. This would have to be done through a process called “ reconciliation,” which allows the Senate to pass legislation with only 51 votes, compared to the standard 60 votes, as long as the proposed changes have a budgetary impact. Considering the Republicans now hold 53 seats after the Senate Elections, and only 51 votes are needed, one might believe that a reconciliation bill is inevitable. Keep in mind, however, that it would still need to be signed by President Obama, and therefore still faces the possibility of a presidential veto.
In simpler terms, Obamacare isn’t going anywhere as long as President Obama is in office. However, the results of the midterm elections should at least put the breaks on its expansion.
In lieu of the relatively uncertain future surrounding Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, now feels like a great time to revisit some of the more notable quotes on Obamacare:
“We may not get that same level of cooperation from Republicans right now. But the good news is I believe eventually they’ll come around. Because Medicare and Social Security faced the same kind of criticism. Before Medicare came into law, one Republican warned that “one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” That was Ronald Reagan. And eventually, Ronald Reagan came around to Medicare and thought it was pretty good, and actually helped make it better. So that’s what's going to happen with the Affordable Care Act. And once it's working really well, I guarantee you they will not call it Obamacare.”
- Barack Obama, President of the United States, September 2013
“With this action tonight, with this health care reform, 32 million more Americans will have health care insurance. And those who have insurance now will be spared being at the mercy of the health insurance industry with their obscene increases in premiums, their rescinding of policies at the time of illness, their cutting off of policies even if you have been fully paying but become sick, the list goes on and on about the health care reforms that are in this legislation: insure 32 million more people, make it more affordable for the middle class, end insurance company discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, improve care and benefits under Medicare, and extending Medicare's solvency for almost a decade, creating a healthier America through prevention, through wellness and innovation, create 4 million jobs in the life of the bill and doing all of that by saving the taxpayer $1.3 trillion dollars.”
- Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, Former Speaker of the House, September 2010
"The Affordable Care Act is not just a law designed to cover the majority of our nation’s uninsured, moving us into the league of industrialized nations which guarantee universal health coverage for its citizens. The law also takes the crucial first steps toward reining in our runaway health care costs. It ends discriminatory insurance practices that leave many of our citizens one bad gene, or badly timed accident, away from personal bankruptcy. It does so while introducing insurance market competition that will lead to lower health insurance premiums for some, and better coverage for others, in the so-called nongroup insurance market where workers without employer-provided health insurance turn for coverage. The Affordable Care Act does all this while significantly reducing our enormous federal budget deficit over the next 10 years."
- Jonathan Gruber, Economics Professor at MIT, Technical Consultant to the Obama Administration, has been described as an “architect,” “writer,” and “consultant” of the Affordable Care Act, January 2011
“This is also an income shift. It’s a shift, a leveling, to help lower income, middle income Americans. Too often, much of late, in the last couple, three years, the mal-distribution of income in America has gone up way too much. The wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy. And the middle-income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with the increased income of the highest income Americans. This legislation will have an effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.”
- Max Baucus, Ambassador to China, Former United States Senator, March 2010
“The biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. $716,000,000,000, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn't even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we're going to stop it.”
- Paul Ryan, United States Congressman, August 2012
“The Supreme Court has never ruled that Congress can use the Commerce Clause to require individuals to engage in an activity they have chosen to avoid. Yet that is precisely what Obamacare does: It forces Americans without health insurance to purchase coverage. Such a requirement is unprecedented and unconstitutional... If Obamacare is allowed to stand – and Congress is allowed to make the purchase of government-endorsed health insurance compulsory – there will be no meaningful limit on Washington’s reach into the lives of the American people. That is certainly not what the Founders intended.”
- John Cornyn, Senate Minority Whip & senior United States Senator, March 2012
"The congressional mandate on American citizens to purchase health insurance is unprecedented. It is one of the most controversial provisions of the new law, setting off a record number of state lawsuits and launching a large number of state legislative countermeasures. The Administration has also been inconsistent, with President Obama originally opposing an individual mandate, but then endorsing it. The President stated that the penalty was not a tax, but then Administration lawyers insisted it was, stressing that Congress’s 'sweeping' taxing power was 'the linchpin' of their argument for the mandate’s constitutionality. Certain propositions are increasingly clear. It Is an Unconstitutional Violation of Personal Liberty and Strikes at the Heart of American Federalism."
- Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, January 2011
“The national debate on health care once centered on improving access to quality care, yet the effect of Obamacare will be the exact opposite, resulting in the shameful degradation of care for the neediest individuals.”
- Fred Upton, United States Congressman, February 2013
“If Obamacare had been fully implemented when I got cancer, I’d be dead.”
- Herman Cain, 2012 Republican Party Presidential Primary Candidate, August 2011