Q+A-Can the US healthcare overhaul be repealed?

By Patricia Zengerle and Donna Smith

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (BestGrowthStock) – Republicans have vowed to
repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul
— or at least eliminate as many of its provisions as
possible.

Republicans included a pledge to roll back the healthcare
bill in their “Pledge to America,” a pre-election plan to slash
spending and stop “job-killing tax hikes.”

A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday showed that 50 percent of
voters in Ohio favor repealing the overhaul, and 43 percent
want it to remain.

Here are some questions and answers about whether this is
possible:

WILL REPUBLICANS HAVE THE VOTES TO REPEAL?

It will be very difficult if not impossible for Republicans
to make good on their promise to repeal the healthcare law even
if they take control of both the Senate and the House of
Representatives in the Nov. 2 congressional elections.

They will need at least 60 votes to get repeal through the
Senate. Even if they do, Obama would most likely veto any
repeal.

The Democrats currently have 59 votes in the Senate (57
Democrats and two independents who caucus with them). Of the 37
seats up for grabs on Nov. 2, 19 are held by Democrats and 18
by Republicans. In the House, where every seat is in play in
the mid-terms, Democrats now control 256 seats and Republicans
179, with one vacancy.

It takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate
to override a veto — 290 votes in the House and 67 votes in
the Senate if every member votes.

CAN REPUBLICANS STOP HEALTHCARE BY REFUSING TO FUND IT?

Republicans can try to withhold money needed to administer
and enforce the law. But, again, they would need control of
both chambers to get such measures through.

Any attempt to block funding also would face the need for
60 votes in the Senate, as well as the threat of a veto.

WHAT ELSE COULD A REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED CONGRESS DO?

A Republican-controlled Congress could hold detailed
hearings on impact of the healthcare reform and possibly build
public opinion against the law and in support of
Republican-backed changes. Such a complex law is bound to run
into many problems with implementation and the party in control
in Congress can control committee hearing schedules.

IS THERE A PRECEDENT?

Yes. In June 1988 Republican President Ronald Reagan and
the Democratic Congress passed the Medicare Catastrophic
Coverage Act, which was intended to fill gaps in coverage in
the government insurance program for older Americans.

It was celebrated as a bipartisan success that would
provide new medical benefits for the elderly. However, older
Americans had to pay for it, in the form of an extra Medicare
premium and a surtax for people over 65 with higher incomes.
The tax led to a protest campaign and Congress, in another
bipartisan vote, repealed it in 1989.

WHICH PROVISIONS WOULD REPUBLICANS TARGET?

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch already has introduced a
bill seeking to eliminate the requirement for employers to
offer healthcare insurance to employees or pay a tax penalty.

Others want to repeal a requirement that all Americans buy
health insurance.

Another plan would be to prevent some planned reductions in
benefits under Medicare, the government-funded health insurance
for older Americans, or scale back the expansion of Medicaid,
the existing government healthcare program for the poor.

WHAT ABOUT THE LAWSUITS?

There have been more than 15 lawsuits filed against the
healthcare law, mostly by Republican state officials,
challenging the constitutionality of the requirement that most
Americans obtain medical insurance.

Administration officials and most legal experts say they
are confident the law would withstand the legal challenge,
because the federal government has the ability to levy taxes
and the Constitution puts federal government powers above those
of states.

Some other experts, and opponents of the bill, expect the
issue eventually will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court,
which would make a historic decision.

But in any event, the suit would take years to makes its
way to the Supreme Court, a timeline far beyond the immediate
political battle over the bill.

HOW WILL THIS PLAY WITH THE PUBLIC?

Although polls generally show Americans evenly divided on
the healthcare law, fewer than half view it favorably, and some
surveys have shown the favorable number slipped recently.

Healthcare backers, including Obama, have acknowledged they
could have done a better job convincing the public about the
program’s benefits.

The administration marked the law’s six-month anniversary
on Sept. 23, the same day that several provisions became
effective. The administration marked the anniversary with a
push to give it a human face by focusing on individuals who are
benefiting from the law, such as cancer patients and sick
children who were denied health coverage by insurance companies
but now cannot be excluded.

It could be too late to win over many voters before the
November elections but even some Republicans acknowledge the
plan could become more popular if enough Americans begin to
feel it is benefiting them.

It would thus be far more difficult to convince the public
to support plans to repeal healthcare or scale it back.
(Additional reporting by Tom Brown in Miami; Editing by
Alistair Bell and Bill Trott)

Q+A-Can the US healthcare overhaul be repealed?