Indiana News

GOP Looks to Earlier Health Care Law As It Presses for Repeal

11/22/2013

Republicans in Washington are recalling a Reagan Administration failure as precedent for their longshot hopes of repealing President Obama's health care law.

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In 1988, bipartisan congressional majorities passed the Medicare Catastrophic Care Act, adding coverage for serious medical expenses to Medicare. Months later, Congress repealed it, spurred by outrage from seniors over increased premiums.

Indiana Senator Dan Coats voted for the law in the House, then for repeal as a freshman senator. He says the law's failure shows legislation that sweeping needs public support first -- especially if it involves health care. Coats says people's health even outweighs taxes as an issue in which people feel personally invested. As a result, anything people fear will jeopardize their relationship with their doctor or raise their costs for a benefit they don't believe they need can trigger voter fury.

Coats argues the missteps in the Affordable Care Act have been the same. But he sees only an outside chance of repeal. He says President Obama is more personally invested in his signature law -- the catastrophic care law was largely a congressional creation. And by the time repeal pressure began to build, George H.W. Bush had replaced Reagan as president.

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