Obama’s Health Care Law Likely To Stay

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Once touted as a virtual certainty on the campaign trial by President Donald Trump and Republicans, the prospect for a full “repeal and replace” of Obamacare could be slim.

Trump vowed last year to “repeal and replace” the Obamacare “disaster.” He promised not only to repeal Obamacare, but to do it with haste. “When we win on Nov. 8 and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare,” Trump said at an campaign stop in Prussia, Penn., Nov. 1.

Leading into Inauguration Day, Trump’s message began to evolve, morphing from one of an immediate repeal to a cautionary tale. “Republicans must be careful” in moving forward with the repeal effort, Trump tweeted Jan. 4. He appeared to hint that even without direct Republican action, “it will fall on its own weight – be careful!”

Just over two weeks into taking office, Trump seems to have changed the narrative once again. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly Super Bowl Sunday, Trump said any hope of an immediate, or expedient, repeal is largely lost. “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.” (RELATED: Krauthammer: Failing To Replace Obamacare The ‘Ultimate Betrayal’)

Republican Rep. Leonard Lance said at a House subcommittee hearing last week that the party has shifted its efforts “to repair the ACA.” Top Republican on the Senate Committee on Finance Orrin Hatch echoed Lance’s statements, saying Republicans should focus on trying to “repair the law,” rather than repealing and replacing it with something entirely different.

Republican Sen. John Thune said the Senate originally intended to approach the repeal effort “systematically, in a step-by-step way,” but that it now appears it “may take longer than, you know, than people at first thought.”

In a complete diversion from what Trump and other Republicans have recently said, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan doubled-down last week on the Republican’s original commitment to repeal Obamacare.

“Our job is to repair the American health care system and rescue it from the collapse that it’s in,” Ryan told reporters. “And the best way to repair our health care system is to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s not an either-or.”

Democrats are less than sold by Ryan’s bravado, and seem to think Trump’s and other Republican comments are more representative of what is actually occurring.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks the change in language from “repeal” to “repair” is no mistake, but rather a foreshadowing of things to come. “I think that some of their vocabulary is changing on the subject. They’re using words like ‘rebuild’ or those kinds of words,” Pelosi said. “They have had seven years to come up with (a plan) and so far we hear vocabulary changes and the rest.”

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