Obamacare Repeal Rumors Are Just That — Rumors

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Reports are surfacing that a group consisting of former and current Republican senators are trying to revamp an attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, but there isn’t much evidence that is the case.

A group of GOP senators and conservative activists are going to roll out a proposal in the coming days in hopes of catalyzing another campaign to repeal and replace Obamacare, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

After a number of conversations with GOP Senate aides, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned there isn’t likely to be a rollout anytime soon — given there isn’t any legislative text floating around the upper chamber.

“It’s unclear what the former senator and these outside groups plan to unveil, given they have no bill text of their own and you have to be a current member of Congress to introduce legislation,” a senior GOP Senate aide told TheDCNF.

It is possible one of the loudest voices calling for another repeal and replace effort — former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania — is drafting some legislation; but as the source who spoke with TheDCNF noted, the bill would have to be brought forward from a sitting senator.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said he would like the chamber to move on from repealing Obamacare this year unless there is a bill with the consensus to pass. That isn’t likely after Republicans failed nearly a handful of times last fall to get the necessary 51 vote threshold under the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules to repeal Obamacare.

Since the repeated failures, some Senate Republicans have moved toward plugging up the holes in former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care legislation in an effort to stop some of the bleeding. Consumers have experienced less choice, higher premiums and deductibles since Obamacare took full effect in 2014.

Higher premiums are expected to continue in 2018. President Donald Trump’s administration took a number of swipes at Obamacare in 2017 and 2018, nearly depleting its advertising budget, cutting open enrollment in half, and cutting its navigator program funding.

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, pushed a bill last fall that would have drastically cut down on federal spending toward Obamacare and gave greater flexibility to states in how they chose to implement the health care law.

Cassidy and his team are now focusing their efforts on how the Senate can help alleviate consumers from arguably the most pervasive problem in American health care: skyrocketing costs. (RELATED: Dems, Republicans Press Medical Industry To Post Prices)

Cassidy, along with GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Todd Young of Indiana, along with Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tom Carper of Delaware, are already pushing what they call a “health care price transparency initiative.” (RELATED: Senators Attack Health Care Prices)

The bipartisan group sent a letter in March to virtually every major player in the health care marketplace, including insurance companies, trade organizations and the industry’s lobbying arm asking how they can help attack the drivers of health care costs and other topics.

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