Winston said promoting these policies, along with working to repeal the law, is an important part of Republicans’ outreach to voters.
“There’s an increasing frustration that it’s just not working,” Winston said of the voters’ views of the law. “They’re looking for something better, and it’s incumbent upon Republicans to provide it.”
Some Republicans think the law will collapse under its own weight — and they hope their measures to repeal individual parts of the overhaul will speed that failure along. Republicans have introduced legislation to repeal a tax on health insurance plans, eliminate restrictions on health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, and strike out the board that is tasked with finding ways to reduce Medicare spending growth.
So far, Republicans have had some success with individual repeal measures, notably in reducing funding for the law’s implementation and repealing a tax-reporting requirement for businesses. And at least one other repeal bill could be headed for success. During the Senate budget votes, lawmakers adopted an amendment, 79-20, to repeal a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices that took effect in January.
Those victories raise a question for the GOP: Is it better to push for full repeal, or are time and effort better spent striking down the most reviled parts of the law?
Many lawmakers seem to be trying to do both. At a press conference touting several bills that would eliminate important parts of the law, including the requirement that individuals buy insurance or pay a penalty, three GOP senators emphasized that they still wanted full repeal.
“I prefer to take down the entire law,” Barrasso said at the event. “Otherwise, we’re going to go after it piece by piece.”
Republicans realize that full repeal is still a long way away, and chances are slim as long as Democrats control part of the government. One longtime opponent of the law spoke to the frustration he has felt since Congress began work on the law in 2009.
“If you’ve listened to me over the years, I said it’d never pass in our committee. Well, I was wrong,” said Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas. “I said it’d never pass on the floor — I was wrong.
“I said, ‘They’ll never come with a compromise from the Senate,’ and I was wrong.
“I said, ‘The president will never sign it.’ He did.
“I said, ‘You just wait, the Supreme Court, they’re gonna nix it. They’ll pull the rug up from under it.’ I was wrong.
“And then I said, ‘Well, the American people are going to rise up as one and spike this thing in the election, and then we won’t have to worry about it anymore,’ and I was wrong.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.