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Special Report

Race Against Time to Undo Health Care Overhaul

The House vote to repeal Obamacare will have little legislative effect, since there's virtually no chance the repeal will become law. But it will have political significance as a demonstration of the continuing resistance to the program. The repeal passed the House by a far larger margin than the bill itself did when it was rammed through last March.

In a sense, this fight now becomes a race against time. That's because once a sweeping set of government policies is put in place, Americans begin to adapt. They come to depend on whatever benefits the program provides and they learn to live with burdens it imposes. Businesses factor the new reality into their plans and change procedures accordingly.

Once that process is complete, it is more difficult to undo the law. It may have been highly disruptive when it passed, but after a while, repealing it becomes disruptive as well. And with billions in insurance subsidies flowing to millions of people, Obamacare could eventually become politically untouchable.

But it will be years before Obamacare is fully in effect. By that time it should be clear the bill does almost nothing to reduce the cost of health care. Plus, the mandate forcing everyone to buy health insurance whether they want it or not could make the measure even more unpopular than it is now. And there is no certainty the mandate will be upheld by the courts.

So in short, it's clear time is a factor in this struggle, but it is not so clear whose side time is on.