NY-21: What Obamacare ruling means for North Country politics

The 5-to-4 decision on Obamacare will resonate powerfully this summer and fall as the NY-21 congressional race unfolds, with Matt Doheny (R-Watertown) and Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) forced to get much more specific about healthcare policy.

Until today, this was  in large measure an ideological debate over the question of the Healthcare Reform Act’s constitutional legitimacy.  That’s now resolved.

But everyone agrees that the reform effort was deeply flawed.  So the question now going forward will be, in far more specific, nuts-and-bolts terms:  What next?

How would Bill Owens work to refine and improve HCA if given another term by voters?  How would he improve the act’s affordability?  Or is he essentially satisfied with the law as it stands?

And for Matt Doheny, as well, questions will be much more specific.

As recently as June 9th, he called Obamacare “a disaster.”  If he still wants to repeal Obamacare, as I assume he does, what exactly would he put it in place?  How would he pay for it?

How would he treat popular measures of the act, including protections for 20-somethings who are allowed to remain under their parents’ coverage, and people with preexisting conditions?

If I’m right, reporters like myself and rank and file voters won’t be satisfied now with broad political bromides from either major party candidate.

I also think this puts a slightly greater burden, politically, on Doheny.

Given this ruling, and the fact that we now have a law that shapes roughly a fifth of the nation’s economy, the Republican will have to make the argument that we need to go back to the starting line, rather than fine-tuning the existing policy.

That narrative may play well with the GOP’s conservative-tea party base, who see Obamacare as an assault on liberty.

But for moderates and independents — the kinds of voters who will decide the NY-21 contest —  it remains to be seen whether there is an appetite for that kind of wholesale do-over.

What do you think?  Will healthcare be a factor in your vote in November?  What do you want to hear from your candidate, whether that be Doheny or Owens?






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18 Comments on “NY-21: What Obamacare ruling means for North Country politics”

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  1. Peter Hahn says:

    Doheny has it easy – he will campaign to “repeal Obamacare” – and I bet he won’t be too specific about what would replace it.

  2. oa says:

    “But everyone agrees that the reform effort was deeply flawed.”
    Good topic, Brian, but everyone agrees this statement is too broad.
    A) Who’s “everyone”? B) Define “deeply flawed.” C) How, exactly, do we know what everyone agrees about, or what the flaws are, as the bulk of the law hasn’t gone into effect yet?

  3. Pete Klein says:

    The beauty of this ruling is Roberts casting the deciding vote and writing for the majority.
    The added beauty is (and I am not going to explain for now) is it will give an advantage to “liberal” states such as New York to attract the best and the brightest to their workforce.

  4. oa says:

    Here’s a really good take on the impact. Key line:
    “This is an imperfect law. But what’s most important is that it provides a structure under which the country can make a start not only on universal coverage — as an ethical imperative — but on doing away with the waste and inefficiencies created by the chronic market failure of the US health insurance system. Again, that matters.”

  5. tootightmike says:

    Doheny won’t be too specific about anything…a classic double talker.

  6. tootightmike says:

    To hell with North Country politics. I want to know how this decision affects health care in the North Country. I spent most of my adult life without any sort of health coverage and, while I’ve been luck enough to marry into coverage, I know many who exist without.

  7. Ken Hall says:

    oa, You took the words off of my keyboard.

    Brian, How about a few specifics as to what you consider the deep flaws to be.

  8. Pete Klein says:

    What this will mean for many is a chance to get health insurance they haven’t been able to obtain in the past.
    For other it will mean keeping what they have without fear of losing it because they get sick.

  9. Don’t expect details from the ACA’s detractors. Just look at John Boehner’s reaction. He says that the ACA needs ot be repealed in it’s entirety and replaced with “something better”. Did you hear him say anything about what he thought would be “better”? I didn’t, any more than I heard a single suggestion or proposal made by Boehner or any other Republican when they held the televised “discussion” before the bill was passed Their answer then was “scrap it and start over” but not one suggestion as a starting point for a “better” plan. I see no evidence that they have any “better” ideas now.

  10. Walker says:

    They could replace it with Romneycare.

  11. mervel says:

    I have always been torn on the bill, mainly because I just don’t think it will work given the cost of health care. However whats the worst that happens? We try it and it works and we get better coverage, we try it and costs skyrocket and we can’t afford it, and we know this does not work and we can get rid of it. When you have such a crappy system as our current one, the bar is not high.

  12. JDM says:

    Another redeeming thing. Obama now owns it. Obamacare is all his.

    Everyone who voted for it also owns it.

    Hear that Bill Owens? You own it. Hopefully, Doheny will come out and say something like, “I will vote to repeal Obamacare”.

  13. TomL says:

    Anyone who says ‘I will repeal Obamacare’ is prevaricating or deluded. It is now a fact of national life, and will evolve but will never be completely repealed. Many parts of the law are popular, and are badly needed reforms to our deeply flawed health care system.

    A sensible, practical, realistic opposition to the current ACA should be focused on reforming and improving it. Altering the least popular or workable components, and preserving others, and proposing ways to make it work fiscally. Fans of the ACA should be doing the same. That is where the campaigning should be. Anyone who campaigns on ‘repeal and replace’ without a concrete replacement, or ‘repeal and nothing’ does not deserve anyone’s vote. It’s irresponsible.

    Obviously there are many who don’t know it, but it is time to move on. And the nation will move on, leaving the ‘repeal and nothing’ crowd behind.

  14. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Obama ran on a platform that included reforming health care. He won. He had a mandate. He put forward a plan. He got it passed.

    Republicans lost. They had no mandate. They attempted to obstruct at every turn. They fought it in the courts. They lost again.

    So they want to make this a big issue in the fall election?

  15. mervel says:

    It is kind of fascinating because no one knows how the health care bill will really work, what will be the consequences? I don’t think it is really in effect until 2014, so two more years and probably two more years after that before we find out what it actually does or does not do for our health care system and our health.

  16. Pete Klein says:

    If the Republicans want to repeal the health care act, before they do this they should get rid of their tax payer paid for health insurance and pension plans.
    I am sick of people who don’t want other people to have what they have.

  17. JDM says:

    Pete Klein: I would like to see a more equitable tax payer paid plan for government workers, too.

    I’m not sure why you are implying that only Republicans have them, though.

  18. Pete Klein says:

    I’m not talking about government workers. I’m talking about our beloved elected officials, both Republican and Democrat.

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