The Roadmap to Obamacare Repeal

Writing in the Wall Street Journal Former Bush National Economic Council Director Keith Hennessey provides a How-To Guide for the upcoming Eradicate & Replace campaign that Republicans will wage against Obamacare.

Hennessey, who blogs at, writes that a win by Mitt Romney and a simple majority of Republican senators – as well as a GOP House – will suffice for the repeal, something I’ve also written here at WHD. But Hennessey, who was also a top policy aide to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and knows Capitol Hill procedures well, is specific about how this can be done.

Hennessey writes that most of the law can be repealed through the reconciliation process – which avoids a filibuster and requires only 50 votes for passage, instead of the usual 60 – and that the rest will then fall on its own:

Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that the financial penalty enforcing the individual mandate is within Congress’s constitutional power to “lay and collect Taxes,” and that the mandate and penalty are inextricably linked. This should suffice to enable repeal, through reconciliation, of both the individual and employer mandates, and their respective penalty taxes.

The state exchanges and insurance rules—”guaranteed issue,” which forces an insurer to sell a policy to someone who is already sick, and “community rating,” which severely limits the insurer’s right to charge that person a higher premium—are procedurally more difficult. Yet both are linked to the individual mandate, which increases taxes. Whether they can be repealed in a reconciliation bill will ultimately be decided by the Senate Parliamentarian.

Once the individual mandate is repealed, these popular insurance changes cannot stand by themselves. Without the mandate, people have every incentive to save on premiums and not buy insurance until they fall ill. This will send premiums through the roof for healthy people and, if the government clamps down on increased premiums, destroy private insurance companies. Those Republicans who say they favor legislated guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements but oppose the mandate will be forced to acknowledge that all three must go.

He also offers a list of Republican alternatives to Obamacare, which the GOP in general has poorly articulated. Part of what Hennessey suggests are ways to increase individual responsibility for health insurance decisions, which are a cornerstone of reining in costs.

The Roberts decision is a calamity for conservatives and an outrage. But if the country twice elects a president who wants to Socialize a fifth of the economy, than the country has made its choice and must live with it.

Keith Koffler


Award winning journalist Keith Koffler has 16 years of experience covering Washington. As a reporter for CongressDaily, National Journal magazine, and Roll Call, Keith wrote primarily from the White House, covering three presidents and learning as few have the intricacies of the West Wing and the behavior and motivations of its occupants. While mainly stationed at the White House, he also extensively covered Congress and Washington’s lobbyists. Keith has also written for a variety of other publications, including Politico, The Daily Caller, and The London Observer. He currently writes regular opinion columns for Politico. He blogs at

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  • Victoria

    Getting rid of Obamacare will be a good thing. However it must be replaced with something, as the country cannot continue on this path.
    I favor expanded Medicare for everyone, publicly funded and privately delivered, without funding for abortion. Abortion is not healthcare.                                                            Single payer, or expanded Medicare, would be the simplest and most efficient health care plan that Congress could implement.

  • mary_love

    We Catholics are asking only for exemptions on mandates of evil
    things not good things, well it is obama who is being unreasonable.
    Indeed it is the agenda of this administration to bully us Catholics
    since the only ones who object to paying for evil abortion inducing
    drugs is us. Catholic institutions and most Catholic employers offer
    their employees excellent health care insurance and this is being
    threatened by the executive branch of our Govt because we are not at
    liberty to violate our consciences and the only other choice given is to
    drop the coverage and pay a hefty fine. What kind of free democracy do
    we live in? A person is not required to believe this teaching in order
    to work for a Catholic institution, or attend a Catholic University, but
    common courtesy would dictate that respect for the Catholic’s right to
    believe would be in order. The same respect one would have for the
    Jewish observance of Kosher food or not working on the Sabbath, or
    respect for the Muslim who wishes to pray 5 times daily and observe
    Friday as a holy day.

    If a person feels the need to have their contraception, sterilization
    and/or abortions paid for with no co-pays or deductibles, then she/he
    is perfectly free to find employment with an employer with a dead
    conscience that is willing to do so. No-one is forcing anyone to believe
    or accept the Catholic Church’s teaching on the matter. As a matter of
    fact if it weren’t for HHS, the overwhelming majority of employees at
    Catholic institutions would be completely oblivious to Mother Church’s
    teaching since we do not generally preach to our employees or students,
    only to the faithful, and at the proper venue (ie. not at work or
    school). Indeed many in the pews at the local parish do not hear this
    from the pulpit, it simply is not at the center of our attention. The
    Govt made this into a political issue, a simple exemption would have laid
    this to rest,