The fact that Republicans are reconsidering what had been a core element of their bill underscores how far the party has moved off the promise of full repeal. Any compromise that passes the Senate—which still remains a big question mark—is now likely to retain the structure of the current law, albeit with significant modifications. And while Majority Leader Mitch McConnell initially wrote the bill to appeal to conservatives in his conference, the changes that have come so far have mostly driven the proposal to the left and in the direction of the status quo. The bill repeals Obamacare’s individual insurance mandate, for example, but on Monday the GOP leadership added a provision design to replicate its effect by penalizing people who go without insurance for more than two consecutive months. The idea is to induce as many people as possible to sign up for insurance before they get sick.
Conservatives have prioritized repealing the tax increases in Obamacare both out of principle and because it is seen as critical to the GOP’s next project: comprehensive tax reform. But there are signs that some on the right could relent on the capital gains tax cut, which disproportionately benefits the wealthy, and unlike some of the other taxes in the Affordable Care Act, does not directly affect the cost of health care.