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Obama dismisses health-care reform repeal: 'I refuse to go back'

President Obama unveiled the 'patient's bill of rights' Tuesday as part of an effort to sell health-care reform to a still-skeptical public. Republicans are talking about a repeal.

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President Obama hugs Amy Wilhite from Marblehead, Ohio, before speaking about the health-care reform's new 'patient's bill of rights' Tuesday in the White House. Ms. Wilhite's daughter, Taylor, will benefit from the new law.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Health-care reform has been the law of the land for three months. Yet President Obama continues to promote his signature piece of domestic legislation so vigorously you’d almost think its fate was still in doubt.

In a way, it is. On Tuesday, Mr. Obama unveiled new regulations that will implement some popular provisions of the law and at the same time warned Republicans not to attempt to repeal the sweeping health-care bill.

“We’re not going back. I refuse to go back,” said Obama Monday at a White House ceremony.

Practically speaking, there is very little chance that health-care reform will be repealed while Obama remains president, since he would veto any repeal bill passed by Congress. The GOP then would have to muster a two-thirds vote in both houses to overcome that veto and roll back bill provisions.

But Republicans aren’t waiting until 2012 to push repeal as a political issue. They’ve drafted repeal legislation and made it a theme of their efforts to retake the House and Senate.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, for instance, maintains a “Code Red” website devoted to repeal that publishes articles critical of the health-care bill and takes aim at individual Democrats who voted for its passage in March.

Voter mood

Some polls show that voters might narrowly approve repeal efforts. A June 13 Gallup/USA Today survey, for instance, found that 50 percent of respondents favored repeal of all or much of the health-care bill. Forty-five percent opposed such a move.

In this context, Obama is playing defense by emphasizing the most broadly popular elements of the bill that take effect this year.

On Tuesday, the administration unveiled what it called a “patient’s bill of rights” – a package of regulations that explains how some of these popular moves will be implemented.

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