Why didn't the GOP try to pass last year's vetoed health-care bill?

One of the things conservative and libertarian groups have been grousing about regarding Trump/Ryancare is the fact Congress seemed unwilling to even consider re-passing the 2016 healthcare bill vetoed by former President Barack Obama. The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (introduced by now HHS Secretary Tom Price) would have eliminated the individual mandate, ended the Cadillac tax, let people use their HSA to buy over the counter drugs, and killed several other taxes on insurers and medical devices. It also de-funded Planned Parenthood.


Obama mewled in his veto message the bill was too harmful to the American public, because “reliable health care coverage would no longer be a right for everyone.” He also complained about the Planned Parenthood defunding. The CBO said the bill would reduce deficits by $282B, but would also cause a $5B deficit hike after 2026.

FreedomWorks’ Jason Pye sent a letter to Congress earlier this week imploring them to re-consider last year’s bill, especially if (and now when) the current legislation failed.

The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming Republican support. In fact, only five members–three in the House and two in the Senate–voted against it. All but three House Republicans voted to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act in February 2016…

If Speaker Ryan and House Republican leadership cannot gather enough votes to pass the bill and are forced to remove it from the calendar, the default position should be the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, versions of which have already been introduced in the 115th Congress. We would wholeheartedly support this effort, and it would give us two years to work out an agreeable replacement to ObamaCare based on patient-centered, free market solutions.


Heritage Action also called for Congress to re-pass the bill last year shortly after Donald Trump was elected president. They also suggested the legislation could have been on Trump’s desk by the time he was sworn into office. They also had several other suggestions on how to make sure Obamacare went by the wayside.

So why not try to just do it?

The blame appears to completely go towards GOP Leadership. “It is very clear to me that the failure to pass this bill lies at the feet Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republican Leadership,” Pye told me. He also said GOP leadership didn’t try to re-pass the 2015 bill because of claims the votes weren’t there.

This does get into the theory that Ryan really isn’t the free market libertarian some of his critics claim he is. Mercatus Center’s Veronique De Rugy told me last year, how Ryan’s track record isn’t good at all when it comes to free markets legislation (emphasis mine).

I think he believes in free market solutions, but I think when push comes to shove, he makes a lot of decisions that are not free market. Even under Bush he voted in favor of the expansion of Medicare Part D…all the big bad Bush stuff, he voted for them, You could say he knew they weren’t free market, but he was driven by the fact he thinks it’s better when Republicans are in power, so this is why we’re willing to compromise and pass these horrible laws or blah, blah, blah. Or the nonsense they kinda say, “Oh the Democrats would have done something worse.” That’s not the point.

I think his heart is in the right place…but he is driven by politics, a lot of the time. His track record is not so great…even his reform of Medicare is Obamacare-lite. You can give him credit for being willing to push for Medicare reforms, but the idea that all we get with Paul Ryan is a free market agenda, is not factually correct.


De Rugy believes Ryan’s core principles are free market principles, but that Ryan is too concerned about rocking the vote or taking a stand for the free market. Maybe it’s something which happens to Republicans when they end up in Washington, DC. They try to be idealists, but quickly see the only way to advance is to be willing to sacrifice here and there for “the good of the party.”

This is ridiculous thinking of course, but when everyone around you tells you to, “capitulate, capitulate, capitulate or your voters will hate you or your reputation will suffer,” or whatever other nonsense is told to the GOP it becomes hard to truly have a spine. This doesn’t not mean elected officials shouldn’t be willing to compromise, but it really depends on the issue. If a Democrat wants to come up with a bill which might reduce the size of the government, or increase freedom, there’s nothing wrong with talking to them about it, and trying to come up with a compromise. And no, this doesn’t mean doing the entire Reagan negotiation of a “tax increase today for spending cuts tomorrow.” That’s a hard line which can’t be crossed.

There is one last thing I want to note to Trump supporters who are perplexed at the fact he supported a bad bill. Trump is in favor of some kind of government-run health care system. Here’s what he told a crowd in Phoenix in 2015.


We’ve got to get rid of Obamacare. We’ve got to repeal it and replace it with something good.

And we have to take care – and I know this doesn’t sound very conservative – we’ve got to take care of everybody, not just the people up here. We’ve got to take care of everybody. Okay? Get used to it, conservatives. I love you, conservatives. Get used to it. Let’s take care of everybody, please?

There’s no guarantee Trump would even support a bill which completely got the government out of healthcare. But he’s not to blame for this cluster in D.C. Trump was probably just looking for a political victory and wanted some kind of bill to pass.

Based on what I’ve been told, it’s GOP leadership who is to blame. Should they be tossed out on their ears? Maybe. But until there is an entire GOP Congress full of Justin Amashs, Thomas Massies, and Raul Labradors, that’s probably, unfortunately, not going to happen.

Kudos to the House Freedom Caucus for standing up for their beliefs. They won this round. Now do it again, and try to get the 2016 bill re-passed. Or just, you know, get government out of healthcare completely. That’s what I’d prefer, anyway.

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