During a live debate with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday, Nevada's Republican Sen. Dean Heller was asked which part of Obamacare he would repeal now that the law has enrolled 8 million people. "No one talks about tort reform," he said on News 3's What's Your Point? There's a reason for that. A pet health care reform idea among the GOP is changes to medical malpractice lawsuits — the only problem is tort reform doesn't do anything to lower health care spending. But it shows that as the law continues to do better, Republicans have to reshape their talking points beyond ending it. Here's how the GOP is talking about Obamacare (and the movement to repeal and replace it) now. Notice how they've moved from broadly talking about ending it to smaller complaints about how well it's working:
Demand tort reform. Heller was asked which part of Obamacare he would be open to repealing. "Tort reform's a critically important component," Heller said. "To have left that out, that particular component, that was nothing but a boost tot he trial lawyers and the support that they've received on the other side." Those are the kinds of changes he wants to see, he said. It's worth noting that Florida's Supreme Court recently overturned the state's tort reform because it hurt patients, and insurance companies pocketed the savings meant for doctors.
Say the numbers aren't real. Heller also added that the 8 million number isn't real. "Keep in mind, we have 30 million people who are uninsured. We have 30 million people today that are uninsured. And yet he keeps talking about this 8 million number being a success story," Heller said. "I don't buy it. I think it's all smoke and mirrors." Actually, there were 49.9 million uninsured Americans in 2010 according to the Census Bureau.
Question who will pay the second and third month premiums. On Thursday Rep. Kevin McCarthy brought up a new challenge to the numbers — have people paid their second and third month premiums?
Don't talk about it at all. Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running for Senate, refuses to take a stance on Arkansas' private insurance option, though he voted to repeal Obamacare, writes the Arkansas Times.
Admit that there's no alternative. All talk of Obamacare repeal is now immediately followed by talk of replacement, but on Thursday Republican Rep. Dennis Ross admitted that the party isn't going to offer up their replacement before the election. "For the next six months, we’re going to go into an election, knowing that we’re not going to do anything to address health care," Ross said, according to The Washington Post.
There are still just over six months until the election starts — and 2015 premiums have yet to be released — but the Obamacare tide does not seem to be flowing in the right's favor. We've gone from repeal to repeal and replace. As people pay their second and third month premiums and the GOP alternative fails to appear, it's hard to imagine Obamacare being the same political burden it was three months ago. At the very least, no one will be talking about tort reform.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.