Is Obamacare on the Table for 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks?

Will Obamacare be targeted for possible budget cuts during upcoming talks in Washington aimed at averting a fiscal crisis in January? Speaker of the House John Boehner insists that it should be. In an opinion piece he wrote for The Cincinnati Enquirer earlier this week he called the president's signature Affordable Care Act a massive, expensive, and unworkable government program.

Pictured: President Obama acknowledges House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio while speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington earlier this month.
"That's why I've been clear that the law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation's massive debt challenge," he said.

Democrats, unsurprisingly, see things otherwise. The Huffington Post's Sam Stein quotes an administration official saying this is something President Obama opposes. A top Senate Democratic aid calls the idea "absolutely" a nonstarter, according to Mr. Stein.

The reality is that aspects of Mr. Obama's health reforms likely will be discussed when negotiations over the so-called "fiscal cliff" heat up. But another reality is that Obamacare is now the law of the land, and isn't going to be repealed or changed in any major way as a result of a final fiscal deal.

That last point is in conflict with Boehner's expressed wishes. The part about negotiating cuts in the law was only a few lines in his recent opinion piece. Overall he said that he and the GOP leadership would continue to try and repeal the entire law. "As was the case before the election, Obamacare has to go," he wrote.

Well, good luck with that. With a Democratic president and Senate still in place, the best House Republicans can hope for is to chip away the law's rough edges. As respected Washington health-care policy consultant Bob Laszewski wrote on his blog following the election, the Affordable Care Act's fate is now settled.


SOURCE: Peter Grier
Christian Science Monitor
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