Is Conservative Criticism Of GOP Obamacare Proposal Putting Repeal At Risk?

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While Republican congressional leadership is working to unveil an Obamacare repeal bill this week, a number of conservative groups are starting to push in earnest for as much of a repeal of the health care law as possible.

Conservative members of Congress who have vocally opposed the previously leaked GOP repeal drafts are now getting some public support from a number of conservative organizations in Washington. Conservative groups including FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) are holding public rallies in support of a full Obamacare repeal and have emphasized their opposition to previous repeal drafts that leave some Obamacare framework in place.

The push has already prompted a wave of media coverage suggesting conservative criticism of the leaked drafts is imperiling the repeal effort as a whole — a view the groups in question certainly don’t share.

“The only people who are putting Obamacare repeal at risk are leadership and members who are going back on their promises,” Noah Wall, national director of campaigns for FreedomWorks, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “No one on the Republican side campaigned to repeal 30 percent of Obamacare. They campaigned on repealing and replacing with free market solutions. Senators walking this back — they are the people putting Obamacare repeal at risk.”

“Republican leadership has been squeamish on this since December. They’re talking about walking back their stances, walking back their timelines,” Wall added.

FreedomWorks is kicking off a “month of action” on Obamacare on March 15, with a rally for repeal where activists will hear from Republican Sens. Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as Republican Reps. Jim Jordan, Dave Brat and Mark Meadows. The repeal push will also include town hall meetings and office visits that are “designed to put maximum grassroots pressure on Congress to keep its promises,” Wall said.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative grassroots organization funded by Charles and David Koch, is holding an event on Capitol Hill on Tuesday billed as “You Promised,” in order to drum up support for full repeal. AFP is also starting a six-figure digital ad campaign to push for full repeal.

The groups are making very clear their policy preferences for a repeal along the lines of the 2015 reconciliation bill that passed both houses of Congress, rather than a measure similar to the House draft leaked last month.

That form of a bill, which GOP leaders said was not the final version, included tax credits for purchasing health insurance based on age, rather than on income, as is in the case in Obamacare. It also included a provision to end a tax break for employer-sponsored health coverage for some high-value plans.

Both Heritage Action, the policy organization’s political action arm, and Freedom Partners, a chamber of commerce also funded by the Kochs, have signaled support for Congress to vote on the 2015 reconciliation bill as well. Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham responded to the initial draft’s publication with a push for more transparency in the process and a public debate on the health care law.

“Every conservative wants to get to yes here, but the only way for that to happen is to have a bill that their voters are okay with,” Dan Holler, vice president for communications and government relations at Heritage Action, said. “Conservatives inside and outside of Congress are raising valid concerns (as Heritage Action said last week) and folks — lawmakers, staff, constituents, reporters, etc — should be able to have a public dialogue on the legislative text and CBO score.”

Freedom Partners has called the initial draft a “new Washington entitlement program.” The group has backed the conservative contingents in the Senate and the House in their opposition to the draft.

“Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare, not pass Obamacare 2.0. Yet doling out another round of Washington subsidies while keeping in place Obamacare’s costly regulations only keeps prices high, increases government spending and does nothing to address the underlying causes that put quality health care out of reach for so many Americans,” Freedom Partners vice president of policy Nathan Nascimento said in a statement. “Congress should keep its promise to fully repeal Obamacare, and should work on targeted solutions that increase access to quality care at lower prices for all Americans.”

FreedomWorks also prefers the 2015 repeal bill, in conjunction with a separate replacement plan similar to the one Sen. Rand Paul put forth in January.

“We need to send a very clear message from the grassroots — it’s absolutely unacceptable [to say] let’s keep the mandates, let’s keep the taxes,” Wall told TheDCNF. “That’s not what was promised to the American people. Republicans were very clear that they wanted full repeal of Obamacare.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan has maintained that Republicans will present a bill to both repeal and replace Obamacare. That legislation is expected to be released this week.

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