Congressional Republicans At Odds Over Length Of Obamacare Repeal and Replacement

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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It appears Republicans in the House and Senate are at odds over the length of time it should take Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare.

While members of the party agree the repeal needs to happen, a number of GOP senators are calling for a three-year window to replace President Barack Obama’s landmark health-care bill. But conservative lawmakers in the House argue that isn’t a viable time frame, noting health-care reform was one of the platforms that helped Republicans win the election.

“I think it won’t happen if it takes that length of time, if we are looking at a three-to-five-year window there is zero chance it will happen — so it needs to happen in the 115th Congress,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman-elect of the House Freedom Caucus, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

According to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, they may need the extra time due to Democrats’ likely attempts to stifle their efforts.

“We want three years in case we need three years,” he told reporters. “I’m hopeful, like I’ve always been, that some of the Democrats will say, well this is more important than the party, it’s important to the country, it’s important for the people and we’re going to fix it.”

With a number of insurance companies pulling out of the exchanges after being hit with larger-than-expected losses, Meadows said it’s irresponsible to allow current policies to remain in place for that length of time.

“That is a nonstarter for us, I mean it’s just a nonstarter — I think anything that goes beyond the 115th Congress, that is not only going to be met with great resistance, but as a businessman it is not a prudent way to undo what has been devastating to the health-care industry and to patients,” he said. “It also makes the assumption that the Affordable Care Act can last three years, and based on its track record, I think that is a huge leap of faith to assume that the Affordable Care Act could even be around in three years, and if it is the insurance companies won’t be.”

Republicans in both chambers have been weighing the best way to orchestrate repealing the law, debating whether it should be dismantled in parts or eliminated all at once.

Meadows said a full repeal is what was promised to the American people, adding he believes it’s bad practice to unravel Obamacare over time.

“Now the implementation of a replacement and how that gets phased in and how we make sure that people are not harmed in the process is a place of greater flexibility for some of us, but the repeal aspect is something that needs to be finite definite and hopefully the replacement follows shortly behind that,” he said.

GOP lawmakers are currently working on constructing a plan to handle how to best transition people out of ACA plans in a way that ensures people don’t lose their coverage in the process.

“There will be no bailouts, but we will be talking to Dr. Price as well as the insurance carriers and others to try and make sure nobody falls through the cracks during the transition,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn told reporters Wednesday. “We’re transitioning to a state-centered market alternative and the details of that have not yet been worked out yet.”

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