Today, the House of Representatives is scheduled to take a vote—its second—to fully repeal Obamacare. House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) said it best: “We will not flinch from our resolve to make sure this law is repealed in its entirety.”
Repealing the massive law may seem like a tall order, but the history of health policy shows that it can be done. As research by Heritage Foundation health policy expert Bob Moffit concludes, “Based on Washington’s record of health policymaking, ending or rolling back Obamacare is hardly implausible.” Moffit points to the repeal of the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 and President Bill Clinton’s failed attempts at reform in 1994.
As Moffit explains, the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 was originally enacted with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, but it was repealed one year later. It was the disapproval of the American people that drove the law’s removal. President Clinton’s 1,342-page health reform plan of 1994 was initially so popular that its enactment was considered inevitable, but it later collapsed on the Senate floor. Again, it was the growing opposition of the public that changed the course of health policy.
Two attempts at reform; both lost public support when the American people found out the actual effects and true costs. Both represented out-of-control costs and new mazes of bureaucracy. Sound familiar? Most importantly, both examples offer important lessons about the power of the American public and the future of Obamacare.
Moffit states, “In order of magnitude, the level of bureaucracy embodied in [Obamacare] is beyond anything previously attempted.” But as history shows, it’s not just the Supreme Court that can change the direction of the law. The American people still hold the fate of this seemingly endless battle against government-run health care in their hands.
Currently, 53 percent of likely voters at least somewhat favor the repeal of Obamacare. With such a lack of public support, history may very well repeat itself as the fight for full repeal rages on.
Grant Hodges is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm.