How Intense Policy Demanders Shape Postreform Politics: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act
Duke University Press
Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a politically volatile process. The ACA's institutional design and delayed feedback effects created a window of opportunity for its partisan opponents to launch challenges at both the federal and state level. Yet as recent research suggests, postreform politics depends on more than policy feedback alone; rather, it is shaped by the partisan and interest-group environment. We argue that “intense policy demanders” played an important role in defining the policy alternatives that comprised congressional Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. To test this argument, we drew on an original data set of bill introductions in the House of Representatives between 2011 and 2016. Our analysis suggests that business contributions and political ideology affected the likelihood that House Republicans would introduce measures repealing significant portions of the ACA. A secondary analysis shows that intense policy demanders also shaped the vote on House Republicans' initial ACA replacement plan. These findings highlight the role intense policy demanders can play in shaping the postreform political agenda.