Ryan: Congress will im­me­di­ately move to re­peal Oba­macare.

Gut­ting to be sym­bolic with ex­act time­line un­clear

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says the next Congress will pur­sue a re­peal of Oba­macare im­me­di­ately, even be­fore Repub­li­cans have a re­place­ment in hand, though that re­peal will not pull the rug out from 20 mil­lion-plus Amer­i­cans who gained cov­er­age from Pres­i­dent Obama’s sig­na­ture pro­gram.

The road map out­lined by Mr. Ryan, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, sig­nals that Repub­li­cans ma­jori­ties and Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump are ea­ger to ful­fill their cam­paign vow to gut the Af­ford­able Care Act in the new year, though any GOP ac­tion’s ef­fect will be largely sym­bolic if many of Oba­macare’s pro­vi­sions re­main in place for months — or years — to avoid dis­rup­tion.

“We want to make sure that we have a good tran­si­tion pe­riod, so that peo­ple can get bet­ter cov­er­age at a bet­ter price,” Mr. Ryan told CBS’ “60 Min­utes” in an in­ter­view that aired Sun­day.

The ex­act time­line re­mains un­clear.

“I don’t know the an­swer to that right now,” Mr. Ryan said. “What we know is we have to make good on this prom­ise, we have to bring re­lief as fast as pos­si­ble to peo­ple who are strug­gling un­der Oba­macare.”

Mr. Ryan said his long-sought over­haul of Medi­care, how­ever, will have to wait un­til af­ter Congress takes on is­sues such as tax re­form.

His push to turn the pop­u­lar, gov­ern­ment-run in­sur­ance pro­gram for seniors into a “pre­mi­um­sup­port” is a po­lit­i­cal light­ning rod that could cause headaches for GOP can­di­dates fac­ing elec­tion in 2018, and it didn’t win over Mr. Trump on the cam­paign trail.

Yet Mr. Trump’s pick to lead the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Depart­ment — Repub­li­can con­gress­man and House Bud­get Com­mit­tee Chair­man Tom Price of Ge­or­gia —en­dorsed Mr. Ryan’s vi­sion on Medi­care in fis­cal blue­prints he wrote as chair­man of the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee.

Un­der their vi­sion, the cur­rent, open-ended en­ti­tle­ment would be re­placed with a fixed con­tri­bu­tion to help each en­rollee buy pri­vate in­sur­ance. The Medi­care pro­gram cov­ers about 55 mil­lion Amer­i­cans age 65 and older and younger peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi is al­ready warn­ing the GOP it will pay a po­lit­i­cal price for fid­dling with Medi­care, and that her troops will fight at­tempts to move away from the pro­gram’s cur­rent model “with all of our strength.”

“With Chair­man Price headed to HHS, Speaker Ryan moves closer to re­al­iz­ing his dream and Amer­ica’s night­mare, of shat­ter­ing the Medi­care guar­an­tee,” she said at her weekly press con­fer­ence.

Though its Medi­care plans are on ice for now, the GOP is charging ahead with ef­forts to dis­man­tle Mr. Obama’s health legacy.

“No amount of tin­ker­ing or tax­payer bailouts is go­ing to make Oba­macare work. It needs to be re­placed and re­pealed. Re­peal is only the first step — it clears the path for a re­place­ment that costs less and works bet­ter than what we have now,” Sen. John Bar­rasso, Wyoming Repub­li­can, said.

While the mes­sage is largely the same, the mis­sion will in­clude new play­ers on House com­mit­tees that will over­see con­sumer and tax pro­vi­sions re­lated to health re­form.

En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton, Michi­gan Repub­li­can, is hand­ing the gavel to Rep. Greg Walden, Ore­gon Repub­li­can.

Rep. Kevin Brady, Texas Repub­li­can and chair­man of the tax-writ­ing Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, will now be work along­side rank­ing mem­ber Richard Neal, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, in­stead of long­time Rep. San­der Levin of Michi­gan.

Mrs. Pelosi said her cau­cus is ready to work with Repub­li­cans on im­prov­ing Mr. Obama’s health re­forms, but has lit­tle de­sire to start from scratch.

“We’re not go­ing to be party to the dis­man­tling of the Af­ford­able Care Act,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told “60 Min­utes” that “we have to bring re­lief as fast as pos­si­ble to peo­ple who are strug­gling un­der Oba­macare.”

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