GOP lawmakers are gearing up to overturn a number of President Barack Obama’s policies in 2017, and Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores is confident Americans will quickly see improvements in their health care options after GOP leaders repeal Obamacare early next year.
Congress is slated to move on repealing Obamacare within its first week back, with the intention of getting a bill to President-elect Donald Trump’s desk as soon as he takes office. While Republicans are still determining what its replacement should look like, Flores said he anticipates the repeal to have an almost immediate impact.
“I think the replacement will take a few more weeks to figure out what that looks like — the good news is the Republican Study Committee already has an Obamacare replacement that has more cosponsors than anybody else in the House,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “So, we can use our model, Tom Price has a great bill, also if you look at the ‘A Better Way’ agenda there’s the outline of a replacement in there — so among those sort of three of the more noteworthy plans we’ll find a solution in there.”
The timing of the replacement remains up in the air, with a number of Senate Republicans calling for a three-year window while some House conservatives would like to see it completed during the 115th Congress.
“What I would say is ‘the end date for today’s Obamacare needs to be about three years post repeal, so let’s say we do the repeal vote early in January and the president signs in on Jan. 20,” he told TheDCNF, noting that’s what he would advise leadership to do. “It ought to end January of 2019. Now, over the next three-to-six months ought to come up with a replacement, and the replacement ought to be fully implemented as of the end date of Obamacare, so Jan. 1 of 2020 would be the full implementation date.”
Flores said if Republicans are doing their jobs right, their plan will both increase access and bring down costs.
“If we actually do those things, then we will cover more people, because people have better access to health care and they’ll have more affordability, so they’ll want to buy it,” he said. “I can see a situation where we come up with a plan where we have more people with health care and they really like the health care they’re getting versus this coverage they don’t like today that they can’t afford.”
Republicans have vowed to keep the popular provisions from the Affordable Care Act in place — such as allowing dependents to stay on their parents plan until the age of 26 and requiring insurers to cover preexisting condition — but will eliminate language including the individual and employer mandate. Flores said he is open to working across the aisle on the replacement plan if they bring ideas to the table that won’t increase premiums.
“I think what’s incumbent upon us is to give the Democrats a seat at the table, and if they do raise good ideas to incorporate those ideas. For the life of me, I don’t know what they are yet, but if they do come up with some, let’s look at it,” he said. “And if you can come up with bipartisan solution, I think it’s always better than having a single-party solution, but again at the end of the day, the American people have an expectation of us and we can’t let bipartisanship dilute that expectation.”
Both Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who was recently tapped to serve as the secretary if Health and Human Service next year, served as RSC chairmen in the past, so the group will likely have an open flow of communication with the administration.
North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker is expected to soon take over the group, but Flores will sit on its steering committee, which is tasked with providing strategic guidance in the direction the RSC takes.
“The good news is we’ll have all these relationships with the administration, so we can talk candidly about how we can make things work really smoothly in Congress and where we might need help from the administration to encourage people to get on board,” he said.
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