Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Raasch: Sebelius Is Gone, but the Health-Care Fight Endures

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Raasch: Sebelius Is Gone, but the Health-Care Fight Endures

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Now that Kathleen Sebelius has left her stormy post as the head of Health and Human Services, what will happen to the sweeping health care reform law that is hers and President Barack Obama's biggest legacy?

Although Sebelius' resignation removes a symbolic target for opponents of the Affordable Care Act, and although Obama's 2012 re- election is seen by its supporters as a final validation, the law awaits yet another voter verdict in November's House and Senate elections.

In the meantime, there will be a reprise of the debate over the law's troubled implementation in the nomination hearings over Obama's replacement nominee, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, currently director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The new law was plagued by massive computer problems during the initial enrollment period and delayed implementation of crucial facets, including a mandate that small businesses with more than 50 employees cover their workers beginning this year.

Sebelius' resignation "doesn't change the fact that the president's health care law is fundamentally flawed," said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

If Republicans get control of both houses of Congress after the November elections, Blunt, who is fifth in line of Senate leadership, said that "we might very well put a bill on (Obama's) desk that would repeal Obamacare. But I would not expect that would be a bill he would sign."

And then what?

There would be another partisan battle in Congress to repeal parts of the law Republicans disagree with, and potentially a more bipartisan effort to fix parts if and where a consensus develops that the new law is not working.

Republicans say their offices are being flooded by calls from constituents who say premiums or deductibles have essentially turned their plans into costly catastrophic coverage, or that they can't see their favorite doctors. Democrats are focused on the previously uninsured who have signed up for the law, although there is no consensus yet on how many fall into that category among the more than 7 million enrollees the White House said came in before the first-year deadline earlier this month. …

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