Congressional Republicans consider repair vs. repeal of Obamacare

UPDATE — 4:03 p.m. EST: According to Congressman David Brat (R-Va.), an Obamacare replacement plan authored by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) is a favorite of the Freedom Caucus, a coalition of conservative House Republicans.

According to Brat, the legislation will propose a $5,000 tax credit for Health Savings Accounts and abolishes the individual insurance mandate, along with minimum quality standards insurance companies must offer in their plan options and some pre-existing condition requirements.

A nearly identical piece of legislation has already been submitted in the Senate by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul.

 

Congressional Republicans appear to be seriously considering overhauling the Affordable Care Act instead of repealing the entire law. While many GOP legislators had originally promised to scrap Obama’s signature achievement, some are backing down from their original intent.

Although many have not said that a full repeal is off the table, the language Republicans have been using to talk about the healthcare bill has changed. Many are using the term repair instead of repeal.

“It’s repairing the damage Obamacare has caused. It’s more accurate [than repeal and replace]” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “We’re not repealing all of Obamacare.”

President Trump also lowered expectations on when Republicans would roll out their new plan. While being interviewed on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” Mr. Trump said that it might take until the end of this year for a new plan to be in place.

“Maybe it will take till sometime into next year, but we are certainly going to be in the process,” Trump said “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.”

That new timeline contradicts what Trump had said previously about a new healthcare law. In an interview with the Washington Post on Jan. 15, Trump said that the replacement for Obamacare was almost ready, and that it was “very much formulated down to the final strokes.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan quickly pushed back on any notion that Republicans were softening their stance, or taking their time with a repeal.

“The legislating is going to be done this year,” Ryan said. “We are going to be done with legislating with respect to Obamacare.”

So far the president and Republicans in Congress have yet to announce a solid replacement or repair plan for the ACA, and frequency do not appear to be on the same page. After Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services, is confirmed, that messaging has the potential to become more streamline.

 

[AP] [Washington Post] [Politico] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Charles Dharapak/AP via Charlotte Observer]