Next chapter for the Affordable Care Act

Getty Images

For the healthcare world, Tuesday’s speech comes down to one thing: ObamaCare.

President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address will allow him to set the tone for healthcare reform’s most significant year yet while recasting the narrative around its rocky rollout last fall.

ADVERTISEMENT
The White House is at a critical juncture as election season approaches. Problems with the Affordable Care Act’s implementation have seriously damaged Obama’s poll numbers and opened a new front for Republican attacks on vulnerable Democrats. As a result, critics hope the president will signal a new willingness to repeal or restructure controversial parts of the law.

For conservative outside groups, focus is centered on ObamaCare’s risk corridors, a system that allocates funding for insurance companies with imbalanced risk pools. Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler criticized the policy as an “industry bailout.”

“Americans deserve some honesty from the president,” Holler said in a statement. “If things are going poorly, he should accept responsibility and explain what went wrong.”

While repealing the risk corridors is conservatives’ cause du jour, other interest groups have their own laundry list of provisions to reform.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) wants Obama to agree to redefine the workweek under ObamaCare at 40 hours instead of 30. The current definition is “reshaping labor markets” and causing “unnecessary disruptions to employees’ wages and hours,” said RILA Vice President of Government Affairs Christine Pollack.

ObamaCare supporters, meanwhile, want tough talk from the president about preserving the new system created by the law.

“At some point, critics and supporters may be able to come together to make thoughtful improvements to the Affordable Care Act,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of advocacy group Families USA. “At this juncture, however, opponents have shown no willingness to do anything but undermine the law. The president should give no comfort to that.”