We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare with something terrific. That was a campaign pledge made by President Trump on the campaign trail. Yet, he also said his replacement plan would cover everybody. Despite what the Left may think, there is a way to move towards universal coverage that that isn’t as a one-size-fits-all package that’s fraught with government mandates.
Forbes’ Avik Roy had a white paper on this two years ago. It ruffled the feathers of conservatives who desperately want the bill gone. I want the bill gone, though reality is a different story. The Right had their chance for a no consequences repeal in 2012. That ended when Mitt Romney lost the election. With millions of people enrolled in Obamacare, it will inevitably devolve into a GOP wants to kill you/take away your stuff messaging war that the Left will win. It seems that reality is starting to sink into key congressional Republicans, as some are moving away from repealing and replacing Obamacare and towards fixing it (via The Hill):
Key Republican lawmakers are shifting their goal on ObamaCare from repealing and replacing the law to the more modest goal of repairing it.
“I’m trying to be accurate on this that there are some of these provisions in the law that probably will stay, or we may modify them, but we’re going to fix things, we’re going to repair things,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), a key player on healthcare, told reporters Tuesday.
“There are things we can build on and repair, there are things we can completely repeal,” he said.
Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is sounding a similar note. He notes that Republicans plan to use special budget rules known as reconciliation to prevent Democrats from filibustering a vote to repeal ObamaCare. The use of those rules won’t allow all of ObamaCare to be repealed.
“I think it is more accurate to say repair ObamaCare because, for example, in the reconciliation procedure that we have in the Senate, we can’t repeal all of ObamaCare,” Alexander said. “ObamaCare wasn’t passed by reconciliation, it can’t be repealed by reconciliation. So we can repair the individual market, which is a good place to start.”
Of course not all of the GOP is onboard. The publication added that Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, chair of the Senate Finance Committee (R-UT), are for repealing the law. Still, there’s a growing number of Senate Republicans who are offering their views on what to do from here. Some want to keep Obamacare’s taxes in place to pay for an alternative health care plan post-repeal; others want to work with Democrats to fix it. Last month, Senate Republicans got the wheels towards gutting most of the law through reconciliation going. While confirming Trump’s cabinet nominees who have been held up by Senate Democrats is the high priority now—not everyone is firmly behind repeal and replace:
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), whose state accepted the expansion, said that he wants to keep it while providing more flexibility to states to make changes to the rules of the program, a common Republican goal.
Another thorny issue is whether to keep ObamaCare’s taxes. Some Republicans, like Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), want to keep the taxes in place to provide revenue for a replacement.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has gone so far as to explicitly reject the slogan of “repeal and replace.” He told CNBC last month that he wants to work with Democrats to “fix” ObamaCare.
There’s definitely the get rid of it now faction, the repeal and replace faction, the repeal some of it, but keep some of the bill’s taxes in place to fund a replacement wing, and a cadre that says just fix the law.
Now, if repeal become the consensus, don’ expect much in the coming months. In fact, a rough timeline by GOP lawmakers for repeal is three years. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway admitted that repeal could take years as well. Premiums are going up. Families can’t afford Obamacare coverage, especially for the middle class. Guy has written extensively on the train wreck that is Obamacare, but things move slowly in government. That’s the design meant for our safety. I’m skeptical of the three-year timetable since lawmakers would be less inclined to be as aggressive on this issue during an election year. What better way to give Democrats ammunition than to actually mount the GOP is going to kill you by taking away your health care by the time 2020 rolls around? It very well may be a good replacement law (speaking hypothetically), but it still offers the ‘hey look, the GOP is taking away your stuff’ argument to the Left—and that side usually wins. No one likes things being taken away from him or her, especially when it comes to health insurance. With 20 million people enrolled in Obamacare, that’s an election. Maybe Barack Obama could blunt the brute force of Democratic attacks if this replacement law is good (he said he would endorse a better plan), but I doubt the former president would want to stick his neck out to save Republicans. If this occurs during an election year, there’s no way this would happen. It could be…all talk and no action. Moreover, Obama is exactly the person that the GOP doesn’t want near their bills concerning an endorsement, though it would afford Republicans a chance to use their god-king to say he’s with us as a defense in the inevitable ad war that is to come. The political blowback was certainly on the minds of a few Republicans at their retreat in Philadelphia last month.
Trump is a different president who will go against his own party to get thing done, or call them out when he feels they made a bad decision. That should be factored into whatever may come of this fight. But first, let’s get the rest of his cabinet and Neil Gorsuch confirmed.