Republicans are facing a basic political problem on Obamacare: If they fail to repeal the unpopular law, they will be reneging on a central promise that they have been making to voters for years, but if they go ahead with repeal, they’ll be under fire for disrupting the insurance arrangements of millions of Americans.
As opponents of the law watch this play out, they should beware of ways that Republicans could try to square the circle – making changes to Obamacare that they claim constitute repeal, even though they leave many key elements of Obamacare intact. Call it Repeal In Name Only – or RINOcare.
So, what might fake repeal look like? For one potential example, look no further than Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s Indiana.
In 2014, Gov. Pence found himself in a similar situation as Republicans when it came to the issue of whether to participate in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. On the one hand, he had presented himself to voters as a fierce opponent of Obamacare and knew he would take heat from conservatives were he to support the expansion. But on the other hand, he was under pressure from hospital lobbyists and other proponents of expansion to take the federal money and extend coverage to more low-income residents.