It's Now or Never for Obamacare

Posted: May 13, 2013 12:01 AM

Flying just beneath the public’s radar is a pitched battle over Obamacare’s implementation.

On Friday, NBC News’ First Read bluntly laid out the stakes for those of us who believe America’s future prosperity hinges, in part, on the full repeal of Obamacare:

“As for the GOP, this is their last shot at stopping this law, and they know it. Once it’s in place and Americans are enrolled, they’ll have a harder and harder time trying to unwind it. Time is not on their side.”

President Barack Obama knows this, which is why he stood before a bank of cameras on Friday to gin up excitement for the law. The effort was more subtle than his female props suggested, though. His real goal was to increase awareness of the Obamacare exchanges among younger, healthier Americans. Absent their forced, high-cost participation in the Obamacare exchanges, costs will explode.

Young people got barely a shout out in the President’s remarks, though. He said, “Young adults under the age of 26, as we talked about, are able to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan.”

What happens after that, he didn’t say; and for good reason. Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported, “Many 20-somethings who buy their own insurance have plans that are considerably skimpier. So under the new rule[s], they will be getting and paying for more, whether they want the added coverage or not.”

As Kaiser Health News recently reported, younger Americans “are less likely to be interested in insurance, because they’re less likely to find value.” And because the “penalty for not having insurance is likely to be far less than the cost of coverage” there is little incentive for them to participate.

Nonetheless, Obama won the 18-29 demographic by 23 points in November; though he won that same group by 34 points in 2008. Many suspect disillusion with “Hope and Change” combined with dreadful job market were the driving forces behind the erosion in support.

What happens to that support when young, healthy Americans realize Obamacare gives them two choices: 1) Buy a plan with all the bells and whistles you cannot afford; or 2) Fork over some money to the IRS because you’re not doing your fair share.

Fortunately, House Republican leaders appear to recognize the need to reengage on Obamacare. Although some have questioned the motives behind this month’s vote on full repeal, such a vote is essential if Republicans are to make the case against Obamacare.

It cannot be the only step lawmakers take, however.

As Heritage Action’s Josh Robbins explained, “there is an ongoing battle over the implementation of the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion in which conservatives can actually score some real wins.” He continued:

“Conservatives can battle this implementation of Obamacare on two fronts: 1) Showing the federal government cannot be relied upon to provide the funding for states to cover this massive expansion of government health care; and 2) Explaining that Medicaid does not work.”

Money for the disastrous Medicaid expansion will start flying out of the federal coffers on January 1, 2014. If the GOP leaders pushing repeal are serious about halting the implementation of Obamacare, they will rally around the Medicaid Expansion Repeal and State Flexibility Act (H.R. 1404), introduced by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ).

They should also rally around Salmon’s other bill (H.R.1908), which would repeal the dysfunctional exchanges created by Obamacare that leave younger Americans (and anyone else seeking an individual plan) with just a few very expensive choices.

Unwinding major legislation is a daunting task, even when it comes to the terribly unpopular Obamacare. Winning this battle requires three things: 1) Lawmakers refrain from advancing any part of Obamacare; 2) A sustained and committed campaign to halt the law’s implementation; and 3) Courage.

Needless to say, it is an uphill battle, but it is a battle we must win.