With the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional, elected officials and hopefuls alike should be pretty satisfied, according to one Wisconsin professor.
"The general status quo is that Republicans are against the health care law and Democrats are for it," said Charles Franklin, an expert in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Marquette University Law School poll project. "So, really, the high court's decision should make both sides politically happy because they can stick to their talking points."
For the Obama Administration, they can say they did the right thing because the law passed constitutional muster, he added. Mitt Romney, whom President Barack Obama will face in November, can continue to run on a total repeal of the law, he said.
Ryan: Time to 'Repeal and Replace'
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) is doing just that as he faces a challenge from Democrat Rob Zerban in the 1st Congressional District. Calling the law a bad policy despite the Supreme Court decision, Ryan is betting on residents' opposition to the law to vote out supporters of the measure.
"Today’s decision strengthens the case for repeal and replace. With the right leadership in place, I am confident we can advance real health care solutions for the American people," Ryan said in a statement. "It is now in the hands of the American people to determine whether this disastrous law will stand.”
Zerban disagrees, saying insurance companies and citizens benefit from the individual mandate because a larger pool of participants means more money and liability to spread around.
"The more people covered means more money going into the same pool," he said. "Adding a healthier population is also good news for everyone because the liability gets spread out as well."
Repealing Law is a Long Shot
As for whether or not Republicans in Congress can overturn the health care law, Marquette University constitutional law professor Ed Fallone said the high court's decision means the only option now is to go through the democratic process.
"Congress has the power to change statutes that it previously passed so this, too, could be changed," he said. "Republicans' first strategy was to use the courts, but now they have to get the votes to repeal."
Fallone thinks that will be stretch because the president would have to be defeated and in addition to a majority in the House, Republicans would also need a sufficient majority in the Senate to overcome a Democratic filibuster.
"It's highly unlikely a legislative repeal would succeed," he added.
As for what could happen after the November elections, Jonathan Jaffrey, a law professor from UW-Madison, agrees with Fallone that a legislative repeal will be difficult.
"Republicans have already voted to repeal the act, and it didn't get very far," he noted. "And if Republicans go get control of Congress and/or the White House, then it becomes a question of replacement. How will they take away health insurance for 32 million Americans and what will they put in its place?"
Results from the last Marquette poll show that nearly a third of respondents fully supported keeping the law intact while 38 percent wanted it completely overturned and 19 percent just wanted the individual mandate removed.
Franklin said the Democrats' challenge now will be using the more popular measures of the bill — like allowing adult children up to age 26 to remain on their parent's insurance and removing obstacles to insurance like pre-existing conditions — and turning that into support for the entire thing.
"Overall, we've seen that people support helping young adults with insurance and taking away the pre-existing clause for insurance companies that allowed them to deny coverage," he added. "So now the Democrats need to play up those positive aspects to get more people behind the bill as a whole."
What both parties avoid with the high court's ruling is having to craft strategies around pieces of the legislation, Franklin said.
Republicans don't have to worry about running against popular measures like the up-to-age-26 provision and the pre-existing condition directive, and Democrats don't have to deal with trying to orchestrate a legislative fix in an atmosphere of extreme partisanship.