Republicans like to campaign on repealing the Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”). But what’s the probability it will actually be repealed? When is repeal most likely? And what factors make repeal more or less likely?
I used a survival model to explore the birth and death of legislation from 1951 to 2006 and found that from the time a law is enacted until about a decade after enactment, repeal becomes increasingly likely. However, after the ten year window passes, repeal becomes less likely over a law’s lifecycle. Thus, in the aggregate, repeal of the Affordable Care Act is most likely in the year 2020, where the probability of a major repeal to the law is about 13% according to my data. Some factors of the Affordable Care Act make it more likely that major elements of the law will be repealed in the future. First and foremost, I found that laws crafted during unified control—like the ACA—are more frequently repealed over the long term than legislation passed during divided government. This is due to the lack of compromise which goes into drafting legislation when one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. But a number of factors simultaneously decrease the likelihood that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed. First, as with all legislation, repeal is less likely in a highly polarized political environment. Unless Republicans win 60 Senate seats in the future, it’s likely Democrats will filibuster any attempt to repeal provisions of the ACA. And second, entitlement programs like the ACA are notoriously difficult to repeal. Once provisions of the law are put in place and citizens begin receiving benefits under the ACA, it becomes increasingly difficult for Republicans to repeal it.
If you are interested similar topics related to American politics, check out Ragusa’s blog Rule 22.