GOP senators facing procedural challenges in repealing key Affordable Care Act provisions
As Congress returns from the short holiday break, senators will continue pushing a bill that would repeal key parts of the Affordable Care Act, despite technical and political difficulties and a certain veto.
GOP senators had a plan to fast-track the bill, which would repeal the ACA’s individual and employer health insurance mandates as well as the medical-device tax and the “Cadillac” tax on high-end insurance plans. That bill passed through the House with the budget reconciliation process.
But the parliamentarian ruled the bill would not have a direct enough budget impact for that method. That means the bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate, instead of a simple majority. Senate Republicans have scheduled a conference meeting for Monday evening with the idea of presenting a new version of their bill, which would roll back or eliminate the ACA’s exchange subsidies and Medicaid expansion, by Dec. 2.
They indicated the bill would be changed enough to get approval from the parliamentarian for using the reconciliation process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he’s determined to get a bill to President Barack Obama, who has said he would veto any repeal effort. Three GOP senators, including presidential candidates Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, have said they would not support the bill because it does not go far enough in repealing the ACA. A few more centrist Republican senators have wavered because of provisions that would defund Planned Parenthood.
Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the reconciliation attempt could be further complicated by the Dec. 11 deadline for a budget agreement, but it could be delayed even further. “This could be postponed to January or beyond,” he said.