Debate on the GOP-drafted, two-page bill - named "The Repealing the Job-Killing Health-Care Law Act" (no, seriously) - kicked off yesterday in the House, and a vote in the lower chamber could come as early as today.
What's up with that? Let the Daily News walk you through it.
Q. Why are the Republicans doing this?
A. GOP lawmakers believe that voters who saw the Obama-backed health-care reforms as a Big Government overreach were a major reason for the party's landslide victory in November's midterm election. Voting for repeal is a step toward fulfilling their campaign promise.
Q. So, will they get it done?
A. Put it this way: The 76ers have a much better chance of winning an NBA title this season. The GOP lacks a majority to pass major legislation in the Senate, let alone to reach the 60 votes to prevent a Democratic filibuster. If by some miracle the repeal did get out of Congress, it would be vetoed by Obama, and there would not be enough Republican votes to override the veto.
Q. So why bother?
A. This week's House vote is, in essence, a glorified conservative kickoff ad for the 2012 elections.
"They're saying, 'If you really want us to go full- steam ahead, we have to have the Senate and the presidency as well,' " said Robin Kolodny, a Temple University associate professor of political science who specializes in Congress.
Q. What would the Republicans undo with the repeal act?
A. Some of the things that became law last year include allowing children to stay on a family insurance plan until age 26, a ban on denying children coverage for preexisting medical conditions, as well as a ban on insurers' imposing lifetime payment caps or dropping people because they are sick.
Many major provisions won't take effect until 2014, however. These include the mandate that will require most Americans to buy health insurance, as well as financial subsidies to assist about 20 million of them in doing so.
Q. Is health-care reform a "job killer" as the Republicans charge?
A. The nonpartisan, Philadelphia-based FactCheck.org looked at all the data and concluded: "Independent, nonpartisan experts project only a 'small' or 'minimal' impact on jobs, even before taking likely job gains in the health-care and insurance industries into account."
Its report said that some small businesses might trim minimum-wage jobs, and some people might leave the labor force voluntarily because they'll be better able to get insurance in 2014.
Q. So if they can't pass a repeal bill in the next two years, are there other avenues for opponents of health-care reform?
A. Yes. One is a series of federal lawsuits against the constitutionality of the law - especially the mandate that requires citizens to purchase private insurance - now wending their way through the judicial system and expected to reach the Supreme Court.
"It all comes down to what Anthony Kennedy thinks," said David Hyman, of the University of Illinois College of Law, referring to the swing justice between the liberal and conservative voting blocs on the high court.
The other factor is that Republican lawmakers are expected to chip away at the law by blocking or at least reducing federal dollars to implement parts of the health-care program, and also carve out votes on specific parts of the plan that are most unpopular - such as the individual mandate - in the hope of gaining Democratic support.