GOP could re­peal, be­fore re­plac­ing, Oba­macare swift ac­tion on Trump’s prom­ise

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Congress may vote to re­peal Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law be­fore com­ing up with a re­place­ment, GOP lead­ers said Tues­day.

The ap­proach could al­low con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans to take swift ac­tion on one of Pres­i­dent-elect Donald Trump’s cam­paign prom­ises, while putting off the hard part. And while re­peal­ing the law could be done with GOP votes alone, any re­place­ment plan would likely re­quire the co­op­er­a­tion of mi­nor­ity Democrats in the Se­nate, some­thing that will not be easy to come by.

“Noth­ing’s been de­cided yet but I would move through and re­peal and then go to work on re­plac­ing,” House Ma­jor­ity Leader Kevin McCarthy told re­porters at the Capi­tol. “I think once it’s re­pealed you will have hope­fully fewer peo­ple play­ing pol­i­tics, and then ev­ery­body com­ing to the ta­ble to find the best pol­icy.”“We will get started on this right way,” the Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can added. With­out spec­i­fy­ing a time­line, McCarthy sug­gested Congress could vote on a re­peal quickly, while putting off the date for it to take ef­fect. As that date neared, McCarthy pre­dicted, there would be po­lit­i­cal pressure for all par­ties to come to­gether around a re­place­ment.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Se­nate Repub­li­can, out­lined a sim­i­lar process, with a re­peal vote fol­lowed by “a mul­ti­year tran­si­tion into the re­place­ment.”“This is a failed piece of leg­is­la­tion and it’s com­ing apart at the seams,” Cornyn said, “but it’s go­ing to take us a while to make that tran­si­tion from the re­peal to ac­tu­ally re­plac­ing it with more af­ford­able cov­er­age.”

Six years af­ter the Af­ford­able Health Care Act be­came law, con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans have voted dozens of times to re­peal it in part or full. But they still haven’t uni­fied be­hind leg­is­la­tion to re­place it, or to en­sure that the 20 mil­lion peo­ple who’ve gained cov­er­age don’t sud­denly find them­selves unin­sured.

Now that Trump has won the pres­i­dency and Repub­li­cans will con­trol both cham­bers of Congress next year, the GOP will have to deliver. That is cer­tain to be tricky.

In one com­pli­ca­tion, Repub­li­cans can use a leg­isla­tive ma­neu­ver called “bud­get rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” to re­peal the health law with a sim­ple ma­jor­ity vote in the 100-mem­ber Se­nate. But to ad­vance a re­place­ment they would likely need 60 votes, re­quir­ing some Democrats to go along. In­com­ing Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has al­ready warned Repub­li­cans he will try to turn their ef­forts to re­peal the health law into a po­lit­i­cal night­mare.

Democrats ar­gued Tues­day that GOP plans to pass a re­peal bill but de­lay the re­place­ment wouldn’t work. The re­sult­ing un­cer­tainty could cause in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to flee the mar­ket­place, said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illi­nois.

“We’d find our­selves with even fewer op­tions out there,” Durbin said. “So I think the Repub­li­cans, in the sober, cold nights when they sit around af­ter their 57th re­peal vote, say, ‘What in the world would we do if we re­pealed it?’ They don’t have a plan.”

The back-and-forth came the same day Trump an­nounced the se­lec­tion of House Repub­li­can Rep. Tom Price of Ge­or­gia as his sec­re­tary of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices. Price helped craft a House GOP plan on health care that was un­veiled over the sum­mer, re­ly­ing on in­di­vid­ual tax cred­its to al­low peo­ple to buy cov­er­age from pri­vate in­sur­ers. But the pro­posal fell far short of a full-scale re­place­ment, leav­ing key questions unan­swered in­clud­ing the size of the tax cred­its, the over­all price tag of the plan, and how many peo­ple would be cov­ered. — AP

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