GOP advancing health care repeal without its friends

GOP ADVANCING HEALTH CARE REPEAL WITHOUT ITS FRIENDS…. After a week-long break, House Republicans will get back to work today, renewing their admittedly-pointless effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The vote, which will likely come tomorrow, isn’t hard to predict — the House will easily approve the repeal measure — but even supporters know the bill will promptly fade into oblivion soon after.

What’s more interesting is how little Republicans’ ostensible allies are doing to give them a hand. (thanks to reader V.S. for the tip)

The health care industry’s biggest trade groups have remained uncharacteristically neutral on the Republican effort to repeal the health care reform law, choosing instead to save their political capital for smaller, more targeted changes that have a chance at becoming law.

America’s Health Insurance Plans lobbied against much of the health care overhaul when it was passed in Congress, but it is not supporting the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. The heads of Aetna and Cigna, members of AHIP, have publicly said they do not support efforts to repeal the law. […]

The pharmaceutical industry, which spent months cutting deals with Democrats to protect its interests, has remained mum on Republican repeal efforts.

Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a leading opponent of the Democratic reform law, is on record formally supporting the Republican repeal bill, but isn’t at all interested in investing any time or energy into the GOP push.

To be sure, the Chamber, AHIP, and like-minded powerhouses haven’t suddenly grown fond of the Affordable Care Act. Rather, they’re ignoring the House Republican’s effort because they see it as a vanity exercise — the new GOP House majority is just going through the motions, hoping to satisfy, at least temporarily, far-right activists who don’t seem to understand what it is they don’t like about the health care law anyway.

Powerful opponents of the Affordable Care Act may have deeply flawed priorities, but they’re not stupid, and they’ll gladly wait for meaningful policy measures before getting in the game in earnest.

In the meantime, Democrats and reform supporters on the left don’t seem to mind this week’s repeal effort at all. Proponents see it as an opportunity to remind the public about the ACA’s popular benefits, while Dems are quietly looking forward to crafting campaign ads in 2012, pointing House Republicans voting for forcing vulnerable seniors to pay thousands of additional out-of-pocket dollars for their medication, allowing insurers to discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions, raising taxes on small businesses, forcing young people off their family’s insurance plan, etc.

For their part, GOP leaders also realize that their “repeal and replace” strategy is only focused on the former, not the latter. As Joan McCarter noted, Republican lawmakers, senior aides, and conservative health policy specialists all agree that the party has “not distilled their ideas into a coherent plan.” The strategy, such as it is, is limited to gutting reform, returning the law to the old status quo, and then figuring something out later.

There’s a reason Dems don’t seem to be approaching this week with any dread at all.