Congressional Republicans face a loose deadline next Friday to enact a procedure that would set up repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But the process is more likely to play out as political theater than a threat to the healthcare law.
Earlier this year, Republicans teed up a budget procedure called reconciliation, which creates a fast track for the Senate to bypass a filibuster and pass legislation on a simple majority. Republicans included reconciliation in this spring's budget discussions for the “sole purpose of repealing the president's job-killing healthcare law,” according to the House's resolution from April (PDF).
Although the GOP set a target date of July 24 to start the process, there are no consequences of missing it, said Eric Zimmerman, a principal at McDermott+Consulting. If Republican-led congressional committees aren't ready to put something forward, they can still do it later, including after the August recess.
Even if Republicans send a bill to the president's desk, full repeal of the ACA is impossible. Obama will not veto his signature achievement. “It's part of fulfilling campaign promises and setting the stage for 2016 presidential and congressional elections,” Zimmerman said.
Piecemeal repeal also appears difficult to win despite bipartisan support on some issues. For example, both sides of the aisle have co-sponsored legislation that would nix the law's taxes on medical devices and high-value employer health plans.
“The president has appeared more emboldened since the King decision and more resistant to any change that undermines the financing for the Affordable Care Act,” Zimmerman said.