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How Congress can 'put brakes on' Obamacare

This year was a very bad year for Obamacare opponents, as they suffered an agonizing loss at the Supreme Court and lost the opportunity to change course on Election Day.

Nonetheless, efforts to stop or slow the implementation of key provisions continue. State leaders, religious officials, national Republicans and even some national Democrats could play critical roles in the effort.

Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, one of the leading health policy organizations in the country. She told WND the conditions are clearly not ideal for Obamacare opponents, but she said there are glimmers of hope on the congressional front.

“The Speaker (John Boehner) has made it very, very clear that while it’s going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to repeal the law as long as President Obama is in the White House – because he’d veto it – they have a lot of power to investigate and to defund,” Turner explained. “This administration needs more money to set up these federal exchanges, these marketplaces around the country because states are refusing to do it.  And they need money to do that. Well, if the House doesn’t appropriate it, then what’s the administration going to do?”

Turner points out that Obamacare was trumpeted as having a $1 trillion cost over 10 years. That projection has already ballooned to $2.6 trillion, and the program isn’t even up and running yet. She said the administration may try to use some accounting tricks, and that’s where the GOP-led House can play a key role.

“If they take it from a bucket that’s designed to be spent for something else and they spend it on that, then the House is going to need to investigate that,” said Turner.

Repeal of certain components within the Obama health laws are also possible.

“There are some parts of this law for which there is bipartisan support for repeal, including the medical device tax,” said Turner, alluding to a growing concern among Senate Democrats over the impact of that tax. “Also, this Independent Payment Advisory Board, that is going to become the Medicare rationing board. There’s support on both sides of the aisle for (repeal of) that hatchet attempt and effort to cut back on health-care costs.”

But given the make-up of the incoming Senate and President Obama’s re-election, is there really a chance something like the Independent Payment Advisory Board could be scrapped?

“Absolutely. A lot of Democrats, including people very much on the left end of the continuum are saying that they do not believe that a bunch of 15 un-elected, unaccountable bureaucrats should have control over literally hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare spending,” said Turner, who added that a growing number of Democrats also fears the almost complete lack of legislative or judicial oversight for the panel once it’s up and running.

Turner admitted such an effort at repeal would require two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate since President Obama would be sure to veto the bill.

As for the resistance movement outside of Washington, Turner said the signs are everywhere. She said many people are making the simple decision to pay the $95 fine for refusing to purchase health insurance instead of spending more than $5,000 on a policy, and businesses are also finding it much easier to drop coverage and pay the fine than provide the coverage mandated in the law. Meanwhile, nearly half the states are refusing to set up new health-care exchanges. And Turner said the vocal opposition of the Catholic Church to the contraception mandate is a key player in all of this as well.

“You’re seeing this Obamacare resistance movement starting with citizens and businesses and religious leaders and states, all saying we can’t comply with this law, and we’re going to find a way around it,” Turner said.