President Obama may have won the legal battle for the fate of the Affordable Care Act, but there is reason to believe he may be losing the political one. After the ruling by the Supreme Court, many be wondering what the next step is in the lengthy process of implementing ‘ObamaCare’, which isn’t scheduled to take full effect until 2014. Last month’s ruling by the Supreme Court left the health care law in the most vulnerable position it has been in to date. In an opinion still being debated by constitutional scholars, and the public alike, Chief Justice John Roberts defined the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act in his majority opinion as nothing more than a tax, to be regulated under Congress’ broad power to regulate commerce — a very expensive one at that. For those failing to comply with the healthcare mandate, the penalty for being coverage free would be $695 or more, depending on whether the individual or a family remained uncovered. To this end, critics of the controversial health care law may have found a potential Achilles heel in the qualification of the controversial mandate. If the affordable care act is treated just like any other congressional tax, this would mean that the entire law would be susceptible to a repeal should the upcoming November elections yield a Republican Congressional majority unfavorable to the Obama Administration.
According to information disclosed by the Romney campaign, donations given post Supreme Court decision surged, amounting to $5.5 million from 55,000 new contributors. The contributions reflect a determination on behalf of Republicans to capitalize on the apparent flaw in the health care mandate by securing a republican president that would refrain from interfering in a healthcare repeal. In a recent speech given just before noon of the day of the ruling, republican nominee Mitt Romney stated, “What the Court did not do on its last day in session I will do on my first day if elected President of the United States and that is I will act to repeal Obamacare.”
For supporters of Obamacare, this pledge is threatening in a very realistic way even if Romney fails to win his bid for the presidency, as a Republican control of Congress may be possible if enough voters seek to oust Democratic congressman for their ineffectiveness in various issues (the economy, events surroundings the contempt vote of Attorney General Eric Holder, etc.) But there is solace in the fact that not all political lines may be so cut and dry, with a large amount of incumbents within the Senate set to retire thereby leaving congressional control up in the air.
For both parties, the number of independent and undecided voters remains a key battleground for the November general election. And according to recent polls conducted by health care providers, many have no idea what’s going on. According to Opinion polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 80 percent of those surveyed believed that giving small businesses a tax credit for health coverage was a good idea, but only 49 percent were actually aware that it was included within the Affordable Care act, while 56 percent were unsure or believed that the health law created government panels that would make end-of-life care decisions for those on Medicare, when no such provision is included. Overall, 44 percent of those surveyed had an unfavorable view of the law, while only 37 percent of respondents had a favorable view. While these statistics indicate that neither side has a majority, it is clear that the number of individuals unaware or uncertain about the health law’s implications is a problem. Before voters can make informed decisions about their votes, they first have to know what they’re dealing with. If recent surveys are indicative of the fact that people remain uninformed, then there is no ground for politicians to object that their policies were passed (or repealed) under incompetent citizenry that didn’t care enough to make their own decisions. Whatever the case, the debate over the Affordable Care Act may be over, but the battle is far from done. The high court has spoken, but voters have yet to have their say.