Boehner: Obamacare is 'Law of the Land'
House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday that Obamacare was “the law of the land” – apparently conceding that GOP efforts to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare law have ended.
Boehner, the nation’s top elected Republican, hinted in an interview with ABC News that Congress would not undertake efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“The election changes that,” Boehner responded to a question about whether Congress would undertake repeal efforts next year. “It's pretty clear that the president was re-elected. Obamacare is the law of the land.
“I think there are parts of the healthcare law that are going to be very difficult to implement,” he added. “And very expensive. And as the time when we're trying to find a way to create a path toward a balanced budget, everything has to be on the table.”
When asked whether GOP legislators would spend time working to repeal Obamacare, Boehner reiterated: “There certainly may be parts of it that we believe need to be changed. We may do that. No decisions at this point.”
But Kevin Smith, a Boehner spokesman, sought to clarify the speaker’s remarks later on Thursday.
"While Obamacare is the law of the land, it is costing us jobs and threatening our health care," Smith told NBC News. "Speaker Boehner and House Republicans remain committed to repealing the law, and he said in the interview it would be on the table."
The Supreme Court's controversial 5-4 ruling in June – in which Chief Justice John Roberts changed his position to side the with court’s liberal wing to uphold the law’s constitutionality – disarmed conservatives of one of their best possible chances of defeating Obamacare once and for all.
And, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's loss on Tuesday meant that Republicans would not have someone in the White House that could severely limit the scope of Obamacare.
Signed by President Obama in March 2010, the healthcare law is considered his signature domestic policy achievement. It requires all Americans to carry insurance – an individual mandate – or else face a tax penalty.
With 500 provisions and at 2,700 pages, Obamacare also prevents insurance companies from denying medical coverage to those who already are suffering from a medical condition. It also allows parents to keep their young-adult children on their health insurance plans until age 26.
States must notify Washington a week from this Friday whether they will be setting up new health insurance markets, called exchanges, in which millions of households and small businesses will shop for private coverage. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department will run the exchanges in states that are not ready or willing to do so.
Open enrollment for the exchange plans is to start next Oct. 1, with coverage taking effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
More than 30 million uninsured people are expected to gain coverage under Obamacare. About half will get private insurance through the exchanges, with most receiving government help to pay premiums.
But the law was immediately criticized by a variety of conservative and doctors’ groups as too expensive and too intrusive.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, doctors from more than 20 states urged voters to oppose candidates that backed Obamacare. Their effort cited a study that 83 percent of doctors said they might leave medicine because of increasing regulation and interference in the doctor-patient relationship.
In addition, Obamacare will require Americans to complete a new form with their federal tax return that require taxpayers to disclose whether they have complied with Obamacare’s individual mandate. That would begin in 2014.
At least 140 million families who will be filing returns will have to add the new Obamacare form to their fining process, according to Americans for Tax Reform. Six million families will end up paying Obamacare’s individual mandate non-compliance tax penalty, the group says.
Obamacare also contains many unwritten provisions that will affect Americans in various ways, Nick Tate, the author of a book on the law, told Newsmax TV in a recent exclusive interview last month.
“For example, the law will create an independent payment advisory board that’s beyond the reach of Congress and the White House that will make recommendations on Medicare cuts that could lead to what critics have called ‘death panels’ that could affect care for seniors,” Tate told Newsmax. “In addition to laying out in the book what we know is coming, we also break out what might be coming in terms of impacts on various people.”