Senate GOP & Trump to House GOP on ACA Repeal: Wait, Not So Fast
After six years complaining about the Affordable Care Act, and dozens of empty votes to undermine or repeal its historic protections, Republicans now find their campaign to #MakeAmericaSickAgain stumbling – as public disapproval mounts against their so-called “repeal & delay” plan. As the Washington Post reports, 10 Senate Republicans have expressed concerns about the repeal plan that would strip health care away from 30 million Americans – concerns also shared by the House GOP’s very own Freedom Caucus and President-elect Trump, who is now urging a repeal vote “probably sometime next week,” with a replacement to go “simultaneously.”
Take a look at the headlines and excerpts below:
…“I think when we repeal Obamacare we need to have the solution in place moving forward,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on Chuck Todd’s MSNBC show. “Again, the solution may be implemented in a deliberate fashion, but I don’t think we can repeal Obamacare and say we’ll get the answer two years from now.”
Joining Cotton in this sentiment last week were Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). And this week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is urging patience, as is Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Corker and Collins, meanwhile, have joined with Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to file an amendment to the budget reconciliation process that would delay the deadline for repeal legislation from Jan. 27 — one week after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in — to March 3.
…Republicans have 52 senators, so nearly one-fifth of their members have now lodged this concern. Even more importantly, losing three of them could thwart any effort to repeal Obamacare in the near term.
Republicans are preparing to take a major vote this week aimed at repealing Obamacare — but the drumbeat of concern within GOP ranks about the lack of a replacement is growing louder.
The Senate is poised to vote on a budget resolution later this week, the first in a two-step process of rolling back major parts of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, GOP lawmakers are speaking out with force, concerned about the political backlash if the GOP is perceived as being reckless given that 20 million Americans have health coverage through Obamacare and there’s no clear vision or firm timeline for an alternative.
These early concerns indicate swelling reservations over what’s become known as the GOP’s “repeal and delay” strategy — voting on repeal but delaying the repeal from going into effect for several years, buying the party time to craft a replacement plan.
…The Republican plan to repeal Obamacare and delay the implementation of the repeal — with a promise to come up with a terrific replacement later — is probably the party’s best way to destroy Obamacare. Unfortunately for Republicans, it’s also the best way to destroy the Republican majority in Congress.
…In other words, the dissenters pretend they just want to give the GOP a little more time to design its plan. But more time isn’t going to help. There’s never going to be a Republican plan. Republican leaders like McConnell promise the replacement will come soon thereafter, but people in the insurance and medical industry aren’t idiots. They know later means never.
Anxiety about repealing Obamacare without a replacement got a lot more visible in the U.S. Senate on Monday evening, as a half-dozen Republican senators called publicly for slowing down the process.
…At the very least, these developments suggest that taking President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy off the books is unlikely to go as smoothly or as quickly as GOP leaders once hoped.
The change in the political environment has been perceptible, and relatively sudden. Following the election of Donald Trump in November, GOP leaders indicated they intended to move immediately on Obamacare repeal, using expedited procedures reserved for certain fiscal issues.
First, Congress would pass a budget resolution, instructing committees with jurisdiction over health care to write repeal legislation. Once that work was done, the House and Senate each would vote on the legislation, work out their differences, and send a bill to the White House, where Trump would presumably sign it.
The budget resolution is supposed to pass this week, and, as written, it calls for the committees to finish their work by Jan. 27 ― just a little more than two weeks from now.
But as the prospect of repealing Obamacare has suddenly ceased to be hypothetical, Republicans have confronted all sorts of questions ― not least among them what will happen to the roughly 20 million people getting insurance through the program right now.
…The reticence about junking Obamacare too hastily reflects certain realities that the GOP hasn’t really confronted until now. Different elements of the party have wildly different perspectives on what a new system should look like. And delivering the kind of financial protection most Americans want without dramatically reducing the number of people with insurance is going to be difficult, if not impossible, without the kind of federal spending most Republicans oppose.
After publicly airing some of their grievances with the GOP’s current strategy of repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan, a handful of Republican senators put their concerns in legislative writing.
…On the House side, rank and file members have expressed a desire to slow the process as well. After a meeting Monday evening at Tortilla Coast, a restaurant near the Capitol, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, said that there was an “overwhelming consensus” among the group of conservative hardliners that they’d like to see more specifics about the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare before voting on the budget resolution, which is expected to be up for a vote in the House this week.
A group of Republican senators wary about repealing Obamacare without a replacement want to delay the repeal until at least March.
…Republicans want to repeal the law but leave it intact for a few years while a replacement is created, but Corker and Collins have expressed doubts about repealing the law without an immediate replacement.
Republicans seem to slowly be coming to grips with the dangerous reality of an ACA repeal – one that would lead to an increase in health care costs, skyrocketing of premiums, damage to local hospitals, thousands of dollars in new costs for seniors, and the loss of health care for millions of Americans.