Boehner says Obamacare should be on "fiscal cliff" table

After Mitt Romney lost on Election Day, it appeared that the health care law was here to stay. States are scrambling to meet federally-imposed deadlines to implement state exchanges and the administration announced coverage mandates. But House Speaker John Boehner signaled Tuesday that he is not giving up efforts to repeal the bill.

In an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Boehner wrote that "we can't afford" the Affordable Care act, and said, "That's why I've been clear that the law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation's massive debt challenge."

Congress and the White House are involved in negotiations over the so-called "fiscal cliff." Spending cuts are a major component of the talks as Republicans are pushing for less spending in lieu of raising taxes. Boehner has spoken in general terms about his priorities for deficit reduction; this op-ed signals that health care is another element he wants thrown in the pot.

The Congressional Budget Office, however, has estimated that the cost of the main component of the health care law, the health insurance exchanges, will lower the government's share of health care costs because fewer people will be enrolled in the Medicaid program. Another CBO report says repealing the health care law would cost taxpayers $109 billion.

"The president's health care law adds a massive, expensive, unworkable government program at a time when our national debt already exceeds the size of our country's entire economy," Boehner wrote.

He says that since the courts have upheld the law and the presidential election reelected the president, Congress' role is "more important than ever."

Boehner also praised his home state of Ohio for choosing to opt out of the state-run exchange program. "I'm proud of our governor and lieutenant governor for taking this stand and resisting the federal takeover of health care in Ohio," he wrote, but Boehner did not mention that if a state opts out, like Ohio did, the federal government implements the exchange instead of the state, putting control in the hands of the federal government.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for