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Obamacare's Future Likely Unchanged By Shutdown

Ben Kraus |
October 1, 2013 | 5:05 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Obamacare Logo | Wikimedia
Obamacare Logo | Wikimedia
Due to the United States Congress's failure to reach an agreement late Monday night on a spending bill to continue funding the government, certain federal operations have shut down.

However, questions still surround the main sticking point that kept Congressional Democrats and Republicans on opposite ends of the debate leading up to the shutdown: President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul. 

Republicans made multiple attempts to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act—dubbed Obamacare—during the back-and-forth that ensued in Congress; Democrats refused to make any concessions on the matter as part of a deal to avoid a government shutdown.

However, now that the deadline has passed and the government is one day into the shut down—the first in almost 20 years, the issue is whether or not the law will remain unharmed. 

The short answer, according to experts, is yes.

ALSO SEE: Government Shutdown: Tea Party Members Speak Out

Julie Zissimopolous, Associate Director of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC, believes the law will remain unchanged, though not entirely unaffected.

“Nothing will happen to Obamacare from a fiscal perspective,” she anticipated. “That said, with the shutdown, some attention is diverted away from information about the exchanges and enrollment.”

Eric Bauman, L.A. County Democratic Party Chair and Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of California, agrees with that sentiment, noting the law’s implementation will continue as normal.

“What [Republicans] seem to miss is that the Affordable Care Act is already funded,” Bauman said. “The government shutting down does not in any way, shape or form slow or stop the roll out of [the healthcare law].”

Jonathan Wilcox, Communications Director for the Republican Party of Los Angeles, says that Obamacare has been “a nightmare in implementation from the beginning.” However, he also foresees no change in the law because of the government shutdown, since that would entail cooperation from Obama. “I do not believe there is any likelihood the President will repeal his own law,” he said. 

With that in mind, the fight over the healthcare law is likely to continue.

“Some Republicans have shown a remarkable willingness for making preposterous demands in order to defund Obamacare and will likely continue to do so,” Zissimopolous said.

Wilcox also points to significant controversial aspects of the law—including the law’s partisan passage, as it was signed into law without a single republican vote—as reason to believe the discussion will continue.

ALSO SEE: Obamacare Launches, Nobody Even Knows

There is less consensus, though, about whether the law will be untouched down the road. 

Geoffrey Joyce, a member of the Senior Research Faculty at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center, expects no imminent changes to the law but refuses to ignore the ambiguity that exists about the future.

“If the fight in Washington [D.C.] persists, I think that will add chaos and uncertainty that could affect ACA implementation down the road,” said Joyce.

Others are more certain.

“They will not find success [in repealing the Affordable Care Act],” Zissimoplous said. “They have tried and failed.”


Reach Staff Reporter Ben Kraus here.



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