Both Sides Stake Out Positions as Obamacare Turns Two

Many of the healthcare law's provisions have yet to take effect.

By + More

The epic battle over healthcare is escalating again.

All sides have jumped into the fray in the runup to Friday's two-year anniversary of the passage of President Obama's healthcare law and the impending oral arguments at the Supreme Court in a legal challenge to the measure.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on healthcare.]

Several key provisions of the law haven't gone into effect yet, such as the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance and coverage for nearly all of the uninsured. Many Republicans want to stop the law from being implemented further or to repeal it entirely. And Kaiser Family Foundation surveys find that the law is just as polarizing as when it passed two years ago, with nearly equal percentages of Americans for and against the measure.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that 41 percent of Americans support the law and 52 percent oppose it. Everyone involved seems to be getting back into the fray, hoping to use a debate over the law to raise money and motivate core constituents.

The Republican National Committee and various GOP leaders in Congress are hitting the law hard as an unwarranted over-reach by the government. The RNC plans to conduct an ad campaign against Obamacare in Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and other states where the president plans to travel over the next two weeks, RNC officials say.

[See photos of healthcare reform protests.]

And Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, two influential legislators on healthcare issues, released a fact sheet arguing that the law is increasing healthcare costs, boosting insurance premiums, and causing greater government spending. They referred to a long-standing Senate Budget Committee analysis that the law is generating $2.6 trillion in new federal spending and will add $701 billion to the deficit over 10 years.

For its part, the Democratic National Committee and congressional Democratic leaders argue that Obamacare is a long-overdue effort by the government to expand health coverage and limit abuses by the insurance industry.

The DNC's latest tactic is to argue that repealing Obamacare would result in higher health-insurance premiums for women because the law would restrict gender discrimination by health insurance companies starting in 2014.

[See a slide show of 10 ways the GOP can take down Obamacare.]

The Democrats also plan to argue that the new law is providing added protection for seniors and is reducing costs for prescription drugs.

A subtext of the Democrat campaign is that the major GOP presidential candidates—former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—want to repeal Obamacare. The Democrats argue that would be a major setback for the country.

White House officials won't say whether President Obama will hold any events marking the second-year anniversary of the law Friday, but his surrogates are expected to do so.

  • See a slide show of 10 things that are (and aren’t) in the healthcare bill.
  • Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy