Few Minds Changed on Anniversary of Health Care Law

Posted March 23, 2011 at 2:38pm

If the one-year anniversary of the health care reform law demonstrated one thing, it is that Members’ opinions on the measure haven’t changed much.

Lawmakers marked the law’s birthday Wednesday with opinion pieces, press releases and fundraising pitches. Republicans used the opportunity to attack the law as broken, while Democrats cheered its benefits to needy Americans.

“On the one year anniversary of President [Barack] Obama’s signature initiative, it’s worth noting that the law has already broken the two key promises he made while trying to sell it: Costs have not gone down, and people cannot keep the coverage that they have if they like it,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) argued in a statement.

Likewise, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) charged in a joint opinion piece that “these broken promises illustrate why so many Americans continue to support a full repeal — which the new Republican-led House has passed — followed by common-sense reforms that will actually lower costs, improve care, and protect jobs. The fog of controversy has now cleared, but contrary to the confident predictions of some, the contents of this law are even worse than anyone expected.”

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) used the health care law’s anniversary to make a money pitch to the GOP faithful, arguing that despite “overwhelming opposition to ObamaCare, [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and Democrats are doing their best to spin reality and celebrate ObamaCare as a success.

“We cannot afford to sit back and let Democrats attempt to distort reality. That is why I am asking you to make an immediate contribution to the NRCC. Every dollar donated … will go to ensure the Democrats’ misinformation campaign fails.”

Democrats, meanwhile, were focusing on the positive aspects of the law that are already taking effect.

Pelosi issued a statement arguing that “Americans are already benefitting from this law,” before ticking off a list of reforms that have gone into effect, including the patients’ bill of rights and a ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. “What a difference a year makes,” the California Democrat said.

Obama’s Organizing for America sent out an email to its members highlighting the story of one individual who has benefited from the law, while the Democratic National Committee’s rapid response team was in full swing peppering reporters with examples of news coverage that was sympathetic to the law.

But while the health care debate will continue rage on Capitol Hill, few expect many changes to the new law in the near term. Senate Democrats are unlikely to go along with Republicans’ demands to repeal or defund it, and the policy reforms being pursued by various House committees face a long, and in some cases difficult, road.