NU Online News Service, Nov. 5, 3:17 p.m.EDT

|

The fallout from Republican Election Day victories could resultin a lot of "noise" about health care reform, but few substantivechanges to the existing legislation, industry officials andanalysts said.

|

Beth Mantz-Steindecker of Washington Analysis said one of thefirst things she expects House Republicans to do in the newCongress is to propose and pass measures to repeal health carereform.

|

She said the House could also pass measures eliminating keycomponents of the legislation, such as the individual mandate andtaxes and industry fees. Other likely successful House efforts willbe defunding the agencies and other aspects of the reforms, Ms.Mantz-Steindecker said.

|

"But, we expect any bill that would materially gut theDemocrats' landmark legislation is unlikely to muster sufficientSenate support or get past a veto by President Obama," shesaid.

|

At the same time, Ed Fensholt, senior vice president anddirector of compliance services for the Lockton Benefit Group,Kansas City, Mo., contended that there is a price to pay for theRepublicans should they engage in such theater.

|

"The Republicans must be prudent," Mr. Fensholt said. "Voters,particularly those in the all-important political center, arelikely to have little tolerance for symbolic gestures while thenation's economy festers," he said.

|

"For the same reason, if Republicans allow themselves to becomebogged down over fringe issues, they will have misread the lessonsof the election results," Mr. Fensholt said.

|

The biggest change in health care is significant congressionaloversight, Ms. Mantz-Steindecker said, which could lead to delayefforts by Republicans.

|

"Several House committees are itching to haul up to CapitolHill, on a revolving basis, [Department of Health and HumanServices Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius and Joel Ario [who heads thegroup implementing the exchange provision that goes into effect in2014] and [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesAdministrator] Don Berwick," she said.

|

|

"Besides eating up time and resources that could help slow downimplementation, it gives the GOP multiple opportunities to re-airopposition to health care reform and puts the administration on thedefensive," she said.

|

As for "Plan B," the crystal ball gets cloudier, said Joel Wood,senior vice president for government relations at the Council ofInsurance Agents and Brokers.

|

He said the law details 115 appropriations that are integral toimplementation of the legislation.

|

"This, of course, raises the specter of major gridlock, andthere is no clear path forward," he said.

|

"If we had to guess, we believe that Republicans will be able tomuscle through a very limited repeal of onerous provisions of thelaw, but not be able to go much further than waging a sustainedpublic relations battle centering on the presidential election," hesaid.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free PropertyCasualty360 Digital Reader

  • All PropertyCasualty360.com news coverage, best practices, and in-depth analysis.
  • Educational webcasts, resources from industry leaders, and informative newsletters.
  • Other award-winning websites including BenefitsPRO.com and ThinkAdvisor.com.
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.