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Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

WASHINGTON • Despite floods of rhetoric, nothing is happening in Congress to alter key provisions the Affordable Care Act that take effect in seven months.

The GOP-run Houses persists with efforts to repeal or cripple "Obamacare," casting votes for the 37th time this month in what amounts to political theater.

The Senate, controlled by Democrats, has no intention of taking up the House-passed bills. Nor, despite flaws in the far-reaching law, are Democrats likely to re-open a politically charged debate with no middle ground on the horizon in polarized Washington.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are doing their best to undermine the law as the time for implementation — and next year's elections — draws nearer.

No senator is working harder in that quest than Roy Blunt.

Blunt, R-Mo., routinely finds openings to criticize the administration, highlight studies or point out observations from Democrats fretting about uncertainties.

He speaks of the coming "train wreck" and the "Sebelius shakedown," referring to allegations that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrongly sought contributions from the health-care industry to help with an effort to educate people about coverage options in the new law.

Two weeks ago, Blunt convened meetings with Missouri business leaders with the stated goal of measuring the "impact of Obamacare for job creators."

Today, with Congress out of session, Blunt is holding more meetings with the same goal with business leaders in the Kansas City area.

Blunt heard the owner of a linen supply company complain that the cost of health care for 70 employees would increase and the penalty for not doing so would be exorbitant.

Blunt told an interviewer afterward there's "no question that there are great incentives in the president's health care plan not to hire." 

Blunt has given notice that he will speed up the pace of such public meetings. He told reporters recently that he intends to shift soon from potential challenges of employers to worries by health-care providers.

Rather than meeting with people who may be feeling optimistic about the new law, Blunt appears to be focusing on those who have contacted his office with concerns.

Republicans open themselves to criticism when they press for repeal of the Affordable Care Act but offer little or nothing to replace it.

Blunt moved this month to remedy that perception, introducing legislation that would offer liability protections for emergency room physicians and on-call specialists.

Blunt's proposed Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act, cosponsored with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., would establish a multi-million dollar fund to assist emergency room personnel who are sued.

Blunt said in announcing his bill last week that he would "continue to support common sense reforms that improve Americans' access to affordable, quality health care."

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