Republicans Aim To Repeal, Partially Replace Obamacare

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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GOP lawmakers are now pushing to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare simultaneously using their reconciliation bill, which is slated to be voted on as early as Friday.

Republican leadership repeatedly called for repealing Affordable Care Act shortly after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, but a number of conservative members have expressed concern abolishing the bill without having a replacement in place could have unintended consequences.

“We need to remember something, this law is hurting people right now,” Ryan told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. “Look at how much worse things have gotten just in the last few months — more double-digit premium increases, more deductible hikes, more people losing their plans.”

Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers asserted no one will lose coverage that’s currently covered under Obamacare, adding she believes the repeal will provide fast relief for those burdened by high out-of-pocket costs. Ryan said lawmakers are still unsure how much of the replacement language will be in the bill, but assured they are working on constructing a plan.

“This will unfold as we bring this process together, but it is our goal to bring all together concurrently,” he said. “We already showed people what we believe, and what Obamacare should be replaced with — so we’re going to use every tool at our disposal through legislation, through regulation to bring a replacement concurrent along with repeal so we can save people from this mess.”

Top Republicans have repeatedly stressed the importance of passing the reconciliation bill — which only requires a simple majority to make it through the upper chamber — arguing it’s their best shot at finally reforming the country’s broken health-care policies.

“You vote against the reconciliation you bill, you can’t repeal Obamacare — I don’t understand how someone could vote against it,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told The Daily Caller News Foundation Monday.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has dismissed the argument of House leadership that the 2018 budget bill is only being used as a vehicle to repeal the ACA, encouraging conservative lawmakers to push back against the measure until the numbers fall in line with the requirements set forth in the balanced budget amendment. Paul, who had discussions with Trump on the matter, also has been advocating for repealing and replacing at the same time, having met with members of the House Freedom Caucus last week to make his case.

HFC Chairman Mark Meadows said the group has been consistent in their call to get a replacement plan in place before the end of the 115th Congress.

“I’ve actually been working with a number of the committees of jurisdiction as well as our policy people to look at aspects of partial replacement in the reconciliation instruction — I do believe that might bide a path that would get enough votes and consensus votes,” he told reporters after the caucus meeting. “It would not be a full replacement obviously, but some aspects of that would give the American people some certainty.”

Meadows said he is looking for more specifics on the repeal legislation before he decides how he will vote, adding that a commitment from leadership to definitely implement within the next two years would ease HFC’s concerns.

A select group of GOP senators suggested extending the target date for the Obamacare repeal from Jan. 27 to March 3.

“As President-elect Trump has stated, repeal and replace should take place simultaneously, and this amendment will give the incoming administration more time to outline its priorities,” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said in a statement. “By extending the deadline for budget reconciliation instructions until March, Congress and the incoming administration will each have additional time to get the policy right.”

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told reporters that members are in the process of configuring a plan to ensure a smooth transition, adding Republicans “ran on repeal and want to repeal as soon as possible.”

Strong noted if that the repeal resolution is passed, the instructions will then go to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which will further delve into “putting the meat on the bones of the reconciliation.”

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