Conservatives scoff at rollback
Republicans in Congress aren’t off the hook for failing to make good on their promise to repeal Obamacare, even with the shiny new executive order President Donald Trump is preparing to roll out this week, conservative activists insist.
“Ha! Not even close,” Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler wrote in an email Tuesday, after he was asked whether the executive order eases pressure on Republicans in the House and Senate.
Heritage and other conservative groups were severely disappointed as the GOP-led Congress they’d helped elect crashed and burned on their dearest legislative priority — repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act.
“It’s a huge disappointment, a huge letdown,” said Jason Pye of FreedomWorks. Pye said he wrote an internal 46-page retrospective on how the whole thing went down over the spring and summer as the House struggled to pass its health care bill and then the Senate tried but failed to muster enough votes.
“That’s one thing I think conservatives are taking solace in right now — there are some great conservatives running in 2018,” Pye said.
There’s also a Republican president determined to say he delivered on his Obamacare repeal promises. This week, Trump and his White House are putting the finishing touches on an executive order expanding health association plans aimed at providing more people with lowercost insurance options. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been involved, too.
Without details, it’s hard to say how many people would have access to these plans, or whether they’d prompt any significant changes in the insurance markets. Many insurance experts are warning it could further destabilize the individual market if enough healthy people choose leaner health association plans, tilting the marketplaces toward sicker, more expensive patients.
Nonetheless, Trump is framing his upcoming action this way: Congress is lame. So he’s saving people from the evils of Obamacare by taking matters into his own hands.
“Ultimately, Congress and the administration will need to deliver on their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare if we are going to have an actual consumer-oriented health insurance system,” Holler wrote.
An executive order just doesn’t satisfy conservatives’ enduring hunger for total elimination of the ACA, a task that appears impossible with the slim 52-48 GOP Senate majority.
“At the end of the day there’s no substitute for legislation, so we still believe for Congress a top priority should be to repeal Obamacare,” said Geoff Holtzman of Freedom Partners, a group funded by the Koch brothers network.