Congressional Republicans and the White House are struggling to convince the public that although Obamacare’s repeal and replace is taking longer than initially expected, they’re still committing to ridding the country of the landmark law.
Amid reports that the GOP may not be as committed to Obamacare repeal as many though, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan insisted on Tuesday that the House will address Obamacare’s repeal this year.
“I think there’s a little confusion here,” Ryan told reporters. “The legislating is going to be done this year. We are going to be done legislating with respect to healthcare and Obamacare this year. The question is how long does it take to implement the full replacement of Obamacare.”
Ryan emphasized that the House would be taking on Obamacare “step by step,” charging that “there is no excuse for getting this wrong.”
As the first steps the House will take, Ryan cited the confirmation of Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price as Health and Human Services secretary and committee work on smaller-scale, specific health care bills, including Medicaid reform.
President Donald Trump sparked questions about GOP commitment to the health care law’s repeal after an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, where he appeared to back off a vow to get rid of the law in 2017. (RELATED: Obama’s Health Care Law Likely To Stay)
When asked by O’Reilly whether Americans could expect to see an Obamacare replacement this year, Trump responded, “Yeah, in the process, and maybe it’ll take ’till sometime into next year, but we are certainly going to be in the process.”
“I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year,” Trump concluded.
Whenever Congress pushes Obamacare repeal through, putting together a replacement could prove tricky. According to Axios, some GOP hill staffers are saying that it may take years to get all the parts of a replacement health care law in order.
The New York Times has also suggested that all-out repeal may be in jeopardy and pointed the complications Republicans will run into trying to write their own solution. Several Republicans, including Health Committee chair Sen. Lamar Alexander and Finance Committee chair Sen. Orrin Hatch, have recently referred to GOP work to oust Obamacare as “repair” efforts instead of “repeal.”
“The political uncertainty surrounding repeal is growing,” Dan Holler, Heritage Action for America spokesman, told the NYT. “If the House has not passed a repeal bill and sent it to the Senate by mid-March, that would be serious cause for concern.”
Several Republicans maintained their commitment to such a timetable Monday evening. House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Kevin Brady told reporters Monday he’d be working off a timetable aiming to ready legislation by the end of March, according to the Hill. Texas Sen. John Cornyn also predicted a reconciliation bill to address parts of the law could come within 30 days.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer also sought on Tuesday to clarify Trump’s remarks to O’Reilly this week.
When asked whether Trump’s promise to repeal Obamacare was wavering, Spicer said Congress may pass legislation to repeal the health care law this year, while “implementation of the pieces may take a little bit longer.”
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