That is the question, in a bid to flex their new won muscle the first attack of the year by the Republicans will be on the Healthcare Reform Bill passed last year. But can the bill be repealed or is it just for political show? The reality of the bill being repealed is practically zero. Many Republican opponents feel it is just part of a ploy to tie up Congress until the next presidential elections.
Republicans, particularly from the fiscally conservative wing, emboldened by their victories in last November's elections and, as promised, will tackle the healthcare reform bill. With control of the House (242-193) and with a vote scheduled for January 12 it is very likely the reform will pass at least the House.
Fighting back Democratic leaders warned against the uproar that will follow repealing a healthcare provision that closes a coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug program for seniors (the Donut Hole). Senate Democratic leaders wrote in a letter to John Boehner, the incoming House Speaker "Taking this benefit away from seniors would be irresponsible and reckless at a time when it is becoming harder and harder for seniors to afford a healthy retirement."
Besides writing letters the Democrats are preparing other counterattacks. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said he will try to force the House to vote separately on the Medicare drug benefits and other popular provisions, including one that allows adult children to stay on their parents' coverage until they turn 26. That could put Republicans in an awkward bind.
In actuality full repeal of the health care law is still not likely. The House vote is just the first and the easiest step, the Democrats still control the Senate by 53 to 47 and most likely the re-form bill will not get through. Should it get past the Senate, President Obama still has the last veto and there are not enough votes to override it. There is also the fact that with no replacement plan in the wings this political strategy could backfire on the Republicans so it is not without some risk. The most likely scenario will be that both parties will drag the issue into 2012 and hope for their candidate to win the presidential election.
"It's not going to be easy; it's going to be a long, hard slog," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, an early leader in the health care repeal drive. The quick thumbs-down vote by the House will have "tremendous utility and value," King said, but it may take electing a Republican president in Obama's place to accomplish the overall goal.
In the mean time the Obama administration is not going to be detoured and is still moving forward putting the law’s framework into place for covering more than 30 million people who in the past were uninsured.
Finally, we have the courts. Challenges to the constitutionality of the health care law are working their way toward the Supreme Court. Opponents say Congress overstepped its authority by requiring most Americans to carry health insurance, effective in 2014. The case may take a couple of years, and it could change whatever the Executive and Legislative branches come up with. Either way the American people again are just the pawns.