The Fate Of Obamacare Under Republican Leadership

The dust is settling after the Democrats’ epic rout on Tuesday.

The blame for the Democrats’ shortfall at the ballot box falls squarely on President Obama’s shoulders. And he knows it.

Republicans won at least seven Senate seats and have the chance to win two more in Alaska and Louisiana. They made significant inroads throughout key battleground states where President Obama won in 2012, including Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa. GOP gubernatorial wins in Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts and Illinois showcase Democrat weakness. Not to mention Maryland, where Larry Hogan’s win can’t be called anything but a stunning upset.

And while pundits and party officials obsess over the exit polls and takeaways from the election, it’s critical that we focus on the legislation that will feature prominently in the next two years.

In other words, we’ve got to talk about Obamacare.

6853652719_bbc9d82cb8_bPresumed new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasted no time in laying out his plans to change the President’s signature healthcare law. Though McConnell made clear that he would not support any attempt to repeal the law fully, he has his eye on big changes.

First and foremost, McConnell would like to repeal the individual mandate, which may be unpopular with the public, but is certainly a sticking point with the President. The White House argues that getting rid of it will make insurance more expensive since many people – especially the young and healthy – may choose to go without insurance.

McConnell would also focus on getting rid of the medical device tax. And the Republicans will also surely target the employer mandate, which has already been delayed until 2016.

It’s unlikely that President Obama will bend on any of these changes. But there’s a path forward for McConnell even without the President, as McConnell has said that he can use the budget process to push his changes through.

I have always argued that Obamacare is an imperfect law and needs to be reformed to work effectively. Obama should welcome the opportunity to work on some free market fixes with Republicans. Tort reform, the option to buy private insurance and allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines are good places to start.