Republicans still hope to repeal Obamacare, but for now they’re just fighting to keep it in the news.
With no hope to completely overturn the 2010 health care law this year, congressional Republicans are shifting their strategy to just trying to keep attention on the law.
This may be in part a reaction to the recent slowdown in Obamacare news. With the federal HealthCare.gov mostly fixed, the public has moved on to other topics.
Here’s how Republicans plan to keep attention on Obamacare:
• Individual mandate: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed paying for an extension of jobless benefits by delaying the individual mandate for a year.
• Congressional benefits: Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is suing to overturn an Obama administration decision on how congressional staffers get health care.
• Internet security: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor plans a vote on a measure to notify Americans if their personal information is breached on HealthCare.gov, along with other bills.
• Web performance: A bill by Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska would require the administration to release weekly performance reports about how HealthCare.gov is working.
• Avoiding other topics: Republicans hope to avoid a repeat of the government shutdown so they’re likely to avoid any hot-button issues that could distract from Obamacare.
Republicans will be aided in their efforts by the calendar, too. Attention will return to the health care law at the end of March, the deadline for signing up for insurance, and next fall, when premium rates for 2015 are announced. A lawsuit over the contraception mandate should also keep the topic in the news.
But their biggest obstacle may be the public, which has listed economic issues far ahead of health care in recent polls as the most important problem facing the country.