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SIDE EFFECTS: Tweaks To Health Law Likely; Repeal Not

As the official results sink in and it's clear Republicans have won a historic battle to regain control of the House of Representatives, our thoughts turn naturally to whether the GOP can repeal the health care law, as some members have promised.

To borrow a phrase from a famous Republican president who vowed not to raise taxes: "Not gonna happen."

However, as NPR's Julie Rovner told Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep early Wednesday, there are a few things Republicans might do to tweak the law.

For starters, the chances of a full-blown repeal are "probably zero," Rovner says. That's because the Democrats still control the Senate and the White House.

Plus, there's a risk for Republicans if they do try to repeal.

Even when polls have repeatedly shown that the law as a whole is unpopular, when people find out about specific provisions of the law — like allowing people to keep their adult children on their health plans — suddenly they don't want to get rid of it, she says.

Republicans may be able to "hack out parts of bill they don't like and leave the rest," but probably not the major parts, Rovner says, like covering people and making sure insurance companies "play right in the market."

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What they can do is "drag people who are trying to implement this bill in the Department of Health and Human Services up to Capitol Hill to testify — every week, probably," she says, since the GOP will chair the House committees.

Ever the optimist, Rovner says with all the pushing and testing expected, "they might actually work together and fix what needs to be fixed."

But there's another possibility, as the Wall Street Journal reports, House Republicans could use their newfound power to block funding for implementation of parts of the overhaul, such as the establishment of state insurance exchanges.

Separately, three states put to a vote amendments to their constitutions to block a federal health insurance mandate. How'd they do? Here are the results as reported by the Associated Press Wednesday morning:

Arizona

  • 2236 of 2239 precincts reporting - 99 percent
  • Yes, 703,280 - 55 percent
  • No, 566,914 - 45 percent

Colorado

  • 2824 of 3246 precincts reporting - 87 percent
  • Yes, 738,444 - 47 percent
  • No, 826,860 - 53 percent

Oklahoma

  • 100 percent of precincts reporting
  • Yes, 638,712 - 65 percent
  • No, 348,039 - 35 percent