By Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- After creating much drama since autumn, U.S. Republicans have adopted a new strategy amid the rollout woes of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): do nothing.
Indeed, recent months have seen much Republican-engineered theatrics with the government shutdown and debt ceiling brinksmanship. But now, the party is hanging back amid U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare rollout debacle.
"The Republicans took some big risks and got hurt politically from them this fall. As a result, I think they rightly have decided to back off from Obamacare and let the implementation problems lead their strategy rather than the other way around," Geoffrey Joyce, director of health policy at the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California, told Xinhua.
"Even if the website problems are resolved, enrollment will still be below projections and there will be plenty of missteps to highlight, even under a best case scenario. So I think the Republican strategy will be to highlight as many problems as possible, but to let the problems drive the story," he said.
Obama's healthcare rollout has faced myriad hurdles since the Oct. 1 launch of its website healthcare.gov, through which potential buyers were supposed to be able to choose from various healthcare plans but instead faced many technical glitches.
To add to Obama's healthcare woes, recent polls have found that Americans are overwhelmingly uneasy about the new healthcare law, believing it will lead to higher premiums and deductibles.
Anger is also mounting among an estimated 4 million Americans who have been dumped by their insurance providers, as their plans failed to meet Obamacare's new guidelines. That development came after repeated promises from the president that those who liked their insurance plans could keep them.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts that when the law is in full force in 2018, 7 million people will see their coverage dropped by their employer and that Medicaid-based coverage will surge by 11 million people.
Despite the new strategy, Republicans may be left empty-handed if the law's kinks are ironed out and Americans become satisfied with the healthcare reforms, experts said.
Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor in the politics department of Saint Anselm College, noted that the website's problems are clearing up."The danger for Republicans is that the federal exchange starts to work as it should, people start seeing the benefits of the law," he told Xinhua.
For their part, Democrats' stance on Obamacare will be evident in the next several months, Joyce said.
"If the problems continue or don't seem to get noticeably better, then yes, some Democrats in tight races will distance themselves from it. If the ACA (Obamacare) looks more promising, many of those same Democrats will be on board," he said.