WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional Republicans said on Sunday they plan a full-scale assault against President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul next year but acknowledged it could take until after the 2012 presidential election to repeal it.
Representative Paul Ryan, expected to become chairman of the House Budget Committee chairman, said his fellow Republicans will try to deny funding for implementation of the healthcare legislation and hold hearings to point out its shortcomings when the new Congress convenes in January.
But full repeal of the law and replacing it may have to await the results of next election cycle, when control of Congress will again be up for grabs as well as Obama’s bid for a second four-year term.
“This bill is such a fiscal and economic train wreck for our country and for the health care system itself,” Ryan said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to try and repeal and replace this thing. And ultimately, I think 2013 is when it will be done the right way,” he added.
The healthcare law is a signature achievement for Obama’s first term in office and he would most certainly veto any legislation that attempts to repeal it.
Fresh from their mid-term congressional election victory on November 2 that gave them control of the House of Representatives and reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate, Republican leaders said on Sunday that they would do whatever they could to disrupt implementation of the law.
The landmark measure aims to extend health coverage to 33 million uninsured people and make it easier for individuals and small businesses to buy medical coverage. But critics say it creates too big a role for government in healthcare while failing to reduce soaring costs.
“What we’re doing in my office is looking for the various parts of it that are subject to funding,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“We will be revisiting this issue time after time. The American people expect us to,” McConnell said.
The bill enacted in March requires most Americans to obtain health insurance and provides federal subsidies to help middle- and low-income families afford it. It also includes penalties for large companies that do not provide insurance and have employees obtaining federally subsidized coverage.
Republicans campaigned against the bill as well as Democrats’ handling of the weak economy. They won a sizable majority in the House and took six Senate seats from the Democratic majority. Democrats defended the health legislation arguing it puts an end to insurance companies discriminating against pre-existing conditions and charging higher premiums for women.
Most of the bill’s provisions will not go into effect until 2014, including the coverage mandate and state-run insurance exchanges that will provide one-stop shopping for coverage.
But some of the more popular provisions, such as allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s health policies until they turn 26, are already in effect.
Republicans are considering denying funds to the Internal Revenue Service that would be needed to enforce the coverage mandate.
They also are talking about denying money to the Health and Human Services Department that will play a major role in establishing coverage requirements and setting up the insurance exchanges.
Republican Senator James DeMint, a staunch supporter of the conservative Tea Party movement, said denying funds for implementation is the first step toward ultimate repeal.
“Most aspects of this new Obamacare are not implemented for two more years so it’s very realistic to think we can slow the implementation of it or delay it and then replace it in 2012,” DeMint told NBC’s “Meet the Press.
Additional reporting by Eric Beech; Editing Doina Chiacu