What Do GOP Gains Mean for Health Care? Abortion Rights?

The Republicans gained ground in last night’s midterm elections, recapturing the House and gaining seats in the Senate. The future House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) wasted no time in affirming that the GOP will try to repeal health care reform.

A full-scale repeal is unlikely in the next two years because the Democrats have retained control of the White House and the Senate. However, Republicans are already making noises about shutting down the government to force the issue. The House controls the nation’s purse strings, which confers significant leverage if the majority is willing to bring the government to a screeching halt to make a point.

Don’t assume they’ll blink. The GOP shut down government in 1995, albeit to its own political detriment. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and his allies have sworn a “blood oath” to shut down the government, regardless of the consequences. The Republicans may actually succeed in modifying minor aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the controversial 1099 reporting requirement for small business.

The most significant threat to the implementation of health care reform may be at the state level.  Republicans picked up several governorships, and the Affordable Care Act requires the cooperation of states to set up their own insurance exchanges. Hostile governors could seriously impede things.

Mixed results for radical, anti-choice senate candidates

As a group, the eight ultra-radical, anti-choice Republican Senate candidates had mixed results last night. Three wins, two sure losses, and three likely losses that haven’t been definitively called. Voters didn’t seem thrilled about electing senators who oppose a woman’s right to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

Two cruised to victory: Rand Paul easily defeated Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky.  Paul is one of the most extreme the of a radical cohort. As Amie Newman reported in RH Reality Check, Paul doesn’t even believe in a woman’s right to abort to save her own life. In Florida, anti-choice standard bearer Marco Rubio defeated Independent Charlie Christ.

Another radical anti-choicer, Pat Toomey, who favors jailing abortion providers, narrowly edged out Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.

Two were soundly defeated. Evangelical code-talker Sharron Angle lost to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and anti-masturbation crusader Christine O’Donnell lost to Chris Coons in Delaware.

The last three radical anti-choice senate candidates were down, but not, out as of this morning. Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett leads Republican Ken Buck by just 15,000 votes out of over 1.5 million ballots cast, according to TPMDC. Planned Parenthood launched an 11th hour offensive against Buckbecause of his retrograde stances on abortion, sexual assault, and other women’s issues, as Joseph Boven reports for the Colorado Independent.

This morning, Tea Party Republican Joe Miller was trailing behind incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who challenged him as an Independent, but no winner had been declared. In Washington State, Democrat Sen. Patti Murray maintains a 1% lead over radical anti-choicer Republican Dino Rossi.

Are fertilized eggs people in Colorado?

Coloradans won a decisive victory for reproductive rights last night. Fertilized eggs are still not peoplein Colorado, as Jodi Jacobson reports for RH Reality Check.

Amendment 62, which would have conferred full person status from the moment of conception, thereby outlawing abortion and in vitro fertilization. It also called into question the legality of many forms of birth control, including an array of medical procedures for pregnant women that might harm their fetuses. The proposed amendment was resoundingly defeated: 72% against to 28% in favor. This is the second time Colorado voters have rejected an egg-as-person amendment.

Blue Dogs and anti-choice Dems feel the pain

Last night was brutal for corporatist Democrats who fought the more progressive options for health care reform and Democrats who put their anti-choice ideology ahead passing health care. In AlterNet, Sarah Seltzer reports only 12 of the 34 Democrats who voted against health care reform hung on to their seats. The Blue Dog caucus was halved overnight from 56 to 24. Nick Baumann of Mother Jonesspeculated that the midterms would mark the end of the Stupak bloc, the coalition of anti-choice Democrats whose last-minute brinksmanship could have derailed health care reform.

Did foot-dragging on health care hurt Democrats?

Jamelle Bouie suggests at TAPPED that Democrats shot themselves in the foot by passing a health care reform bill that won’t provide tangible benefits to most people for years. The exchanges that are supposed to provide affordable insurance for millions of Americans won’t be up and running until 2014.

In Summer 2009, Former DNC chair Howard Dean predicted that the Democrats would be penalized at the polls if they failed to deliver tangible benefits from health care reform before the midterm elections. That’s why Dean suggested expanding the public health insurance programs we already have, rather than creating insurance exchanges from scratch.

Sink, sunk by Scott

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones profiles Rick Scott, the billionaire health clinic mogul, corporate fraudster, and enemy of health care reform who spent over $50 million of his own money to eke out a very narrow victory over Democrat Alex Sink in the Florida governor’s race.

Apparently, many Floridians were willing to overlook the fact that Scott had to pay a $1.7 billion fine for defrauding Medicare, the largest fine of its kind in history. Scott also spent $5 million of his own money to found Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, one of the leading independent groups opposing health care reform.

Pot isn’t legalized in California

California defeated Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana for personal use. David Borden of DRCnet, a pro-legalization group, writes in AlterNet that the fight over Prop 19 brought legalization into the political mainstream, even if the measure didn’t prevail at the polls. The initiative won the backing of the California NAACP, SEIU California, the National Black Police Association, and the National Latino Officers Association and other established groups.

So, what’s next for health care reform? The question everyone is asking is whether John Boehner will cave to the extremists in his own party and attempt a full-scale government shutdown, or whether the Republicans will content themselves with extracting piecemeal modifications of the health care law.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.


Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman8 years ago


Michael Cunningham

"With any luck at all, Republican control of the House means a Speaker of the House who WON'T say "We have to pass this bill in order to find out what's in it" "

People were told that they would be able to keep current plans, but;
"(b) REQUIREMENTS FOR QUALIFIED HEALTH BENEFITS PLANS.—On or after the first day of Y1, a health benefits plan shall not be a qualified health benefits plan under this division unless the plan meets the applicable requirements of the following subtitles for the type of plan and plan year involved:"

In English that means the Government decides what is a Qualified plan. Other portions of the law state that the Government decides what coverage is offered and what that coverage costs.
So who is running the show? And why do I have to pay for coverage I do not need?

Patricia E.
Patricia Evans8 years ago

With any luck at all, Republican control of the House means a Speaker of the House who WON'T say "We have to pass this bill in order to find out what's in it" of the ill-conceived gift to the health insurance industry we like to call Obamacare.

This bill was not passed in the light of day. Its every provision must be investigated in the People's House so that we can determine exactly HOW we were sold out to Big Insurance and Big Pharma by Obama and friends.

Michael Cunningham

"it's surprising that some people are still scared of those tired old lies about "death panels" and the government intervening and setting rules re: personal decisions about one's health."

Although the words "death panels" does not appear in the law, the concept is there.
As for the "government intervening and setting rules re: personal decisions about one's health.", that is right on page one!!

Michael Cunningham

"Will indeed be a slippery slope to climb if the newly elected pass the "reforms" (more like regressions) that they would like in the next congressional session."

Thing is the current "reforms" really aren't reforms. They are controls. Largely price controls, which never work.
Other than that they are targeting the wrong industry. All of this is directed at insurance, none of it at actual health care.

The whole thing should be shredded. The convolution and complexity make repairing it impossible.

Heather G.
Heather G8 years ago

it's surprising that some people are still scared of those tired old lies about "death panels" and the government intervening and setting rules re: personal decisions about one's health.

But it's shocking and hyprocritical that the same people think it's OK for the government to intervene in personal decisions if the person is a PREGNANT WOMAN!!

Melissah Chadwick
Melissah C8 years ago


Susan Weihofen
Susan Weihofen8 years ago

Will indeed be a slippery slope to climb if the newly elected pass the "reforms" (more like regressions) that they would like in the next congressional session.

Michael Cunningham

Regarding "pro-life"/"pro-choice", in the end the ethical question of whether the fetus should be treated as a child is irrelevant for policy. We are not asking "Is it wrong to abort?", but "Is it right to legally forbid abortion?", and these are two separate questions.":

These are in no way separate questions. They are precisely the same. Consider; "Is it wrong to murder?", but "Is it right to legally forbid murder?" Are these to separate questions?

Then your premise is wrong and all that flows from the premise is not supported!

Michael Cunningham

"Both sides of the aisle work together to fix the health care reform package."

I don't think the existing plan can be fixed!