When Congress passed President Obama's health care reform legislation on Sunday, it was in many ways merely one incremental victory on the long road to health care reform. The path ahead remains difficult, and will require many challenging political and policy choices for Democrats now enjoying their victory. Here's what they're facing.
- Political Battle Will Rage For Years The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Sherly Stolberg say the health care debate is far from over. Many key provisions do not kick in for years, but health care reform will be a key issue in many 2010 and 2012 elections. Republicans will be on the attack and Democrats will have to work hard to sell the reforms. With health care reform still hypothetical and repeal still a possibility, the debate will be remain somewhat unchanged from before the bill was passed.
- GOP Begins Repeal Campaign The Weekly Standard's William Kristol boisterously approves Republican gestures at repealing health care reform. "Luckily, key parts of Obamacare--especially the subsidies--don't go into effect until 2014. So what Republicans have to do is to make the 2010 and the 2012 elections referenda on Obamacare, win those elections, and then repeal Obamacare." He is joined by the National Review and Wall Street Journal.
- How Repeal Would Work Agence France-Presse's Olivier Knox explains that it would be incremental, not an all-out repeal. "GOP 'repeal' push won't come in one big bill it'll target individual items (Medicare cuts, tax increase). [...] push will also leave alone the super-popular stuff, like the preexisting condition measure." He notes they would need at least 50 or as many as 60 seats in the Senate, a bit of a "longshot."
- Will Dems Really Cut Medicare? The New York Times' Ross Douthat notes that many of health care reform's key cost-cutting measures come from reforming Medicare. But Medicare is incredibly popular and the possibility cutting Medicare is politically poisonous. Will Republicans begin running on a campaign to save Medicare? Will Democrats be able to convince voters that their cost-control measures won't reduce service? Or will Dems ultimately decide that the cuts are too difficult and, in so doing, make health care reform unaffordable?
- Role of Government to Dominate Debate Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent predicts, "the real argument underlying this fight -- this chapter in the larger ideological showdown over the proper role of government in our lives, an argument that has taken mutiple forms throughout our history -- is only beginning. There will now be an actual law that frames and defines this debate." This national conversation will extend well beyond health care.