It could be called a "death panel" -- for the health care law itself, that is.
In advance of the Affordable Care Act's one year anniversary next week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Friday convened a panel of experts to examine its "survival rate," predicting the controversial law will be repealed by the spring of 2013.
"I think it will be repealed, probably by March or April of 2013," Gingrich predicted at a panel discussion sponsored by the Center for Health Transformation, an organization he founded to advocate for "system-wide" reform. "It's unfortunate that the Obama Administration is stonewalling serious rethinking of this bill, because in the form it came through, and the way that they wrote it, it is clearly...indefensible."
A potential 2012 challenger to President Obama, Gingrich was silent on whether he expects to play a direct role in scrapping the law. Likely to be pitted against Mitt Romney in the Republican primary, potential candidates Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum have sought to fatally compare the former Massachusetts governor's state health care plan with the president's law.
But Gingrich, sometimes called a policy wonk, instead opted to pick apart the nuts and bolts of the federal law. Like Barbour, Gingrich supports block granting Medicaid, or providing federal lump sums to states in an effort to reduce costs by localizing control of the program. The vocal health care law critic says he will unveil his own proposal to block grant Medicaid in a "few weeks," a measure that he calls "a fundamental replacement of Obamacare."
"The experiment in federal micromanagement of health care for the poor nationwide is clearly a failure," he said. "It's too expensive, it's too cumbersome, it's too bureaucratic, it is riddled with fraud, and we don't believe the government can fix it."
Gingrich pointed to an 18-foot-long list of the new government offices created by the law as an example of some of the "financially unsustainable," "utterly unworkable," and "extraordinarily expensive" provisions it contains.
The former House Speaker predicted that the Obama administration will face a serious challenge to the bill from the House of Representatives this year.
"I don't see how they force the House to pass appropriations this year to implement the bill," Gingrich said, calling any public defense of the bill by the administration "a pretty losing political proposition for the president." "He can block them from repeal, but I don't think he can coerce them into funding."
"The administration is running around trying to defend the indefensible, and I just think at some point that psychologically starts to break down," he said. "The best you're going to get is a real mess from the standpoint of the left, and the worst you're going to get is total repeal."
Gingrich this week returned to Washington from New Hampshire, and is expected to visit another early primary state, South Carolina, at the end of March.