A House Republican who plays a leading role on health issues predicted Wednesday that the Supreme Court will rule the new federal health-care law unconstitutional by the spring of 2012.
“I think the courts are going to lap us on this one,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee to mark the one-year-anniversary of the law’s passage.
Even as Republicans are predicting its demise, Democrats are defending the law and touting its benefits in a number of events ahead of the one-year anniversary. On a Wednesday conference call with reporters following the RNC event, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) called the one-year anniversary “an exciting day” and said that “people are already feeling the positive effects” of the health-care law.
During the GOP call, Price, a physician, said the health-care law is “still bad medicine” and predicted that challenges being waged in the Eleventh and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeals in Richmond and Atlanta would move to the Supreme Court by the fall. After that, Price projected, the high court will act “sometime by the spring of next year by finding that the law is unconstitutional.”
The Fourth Circuit is scheduled to take up a challenge to the law’s constitutionality in May, with the Eleventh Circuit likely to follow this summer. Price’s prediction on the timing is in tune with many legal experts.
With Republicans in control of the House and Democrats holding the Senate, any efforts to repeal the health-care law aren’t likely to go far in Congress. But Price said Wednesday that Republicans are hoping that January’s 245-to-189 House vote to repeal the entire health-care law will help to keep the spotlight on the issue as the GOP works to keep the House and re-take the Senate in 2012.
“We think that the House action will continue to bring focus to this and hopefully allow the American people to contact their senators” on the issue of health care, Price said. The Senate rejected the repeal measure in February.
Wasserman-Schultz charged in the Democratic call that by continuing to focus on health-care repeal, Republicans are “repeating the political battles of the past while the American people are ready to move on.”
“Every day that Republicans spend trying to undo health reform is one less day that they ... work to create jobs,” she said.
Both parties spent vast resources over the past election cycle touting (in the case of Democrats) or attacking (in Republicans’ case) the health-care law. Yet public opinion largely has remained static, with most recent polls showing a slim majority opposing the law even as those opponents remain divided over how much of the overhaul to repeal and replace.
Wasserman Schultz on Wednesday interpreted those numbers as a good for Democrats, arguing that over the last two years, Republicans “have spent hundreds of millions of dollars attacking it and we’re still at fifty-fifty when it comes to the polling.”
“If you ask me, the opponents of health-care reform have thrown a lot of money down a black hole,” she said.