House and Senate Republican leadership met mid-week last week for their annual planning retreat. At the meeting, House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out legislative plans for the next 200 days. On the agenda is repealing and replacing portions of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Another big project — tax reform.
Ryan said ObamaCare’s target date for action is spring and taxes and tax reform will be done by August and the annual August recess. House Budget Committee Chairwoman Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee said, “It will be a repeal with some replacement in it for what we're able to do given the reconciliation process. Our goal is to make this a patient-centered healthcare system where we give people options.”
And she said in spite of what you hear, health care savings accounts are one of the positive pieces and is “something that people really do want.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who’ll have a more difficult time pushing an ObamaCare replacement through the senate — is largely in agreement with Ryan’s timeline.
Not everyone in the Republican Party is all that happy with the rush to repeal. Many don’t think Republicans ought to move on anything without input from the president and others worried about how to get this going and asked questions like:
• Don’t we need a replacement plan in place before repeal?
• How do we avoid causing deep damage to the health insurance market?
• Who will lose coverage?
• Or who will pay more under a revamped system?
And then there are the political challenges says California Rep. Tom McClintock.
“We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created. That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away,” he said.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee agreed. “Our goal, in my opinion, should be not a quick fix. We can do it rapidly — but not a quick fix. We want a long-term solution that lowers costs,” he said.
Ryan punctuated the discussion with, “We have a responsibility to work for the people that put us in office. That’s the oath we take: to defend the Constitution, to fight for the people we represent, and this is a fiasco that needs to be fixed.”
The process begins in earnest on Thursday of this week as Oregon Congressman Greg Walden’s House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled The Failures of ObamaCare: Harmful Effects and Broken Promises. It is that committee that will construct most of the replacement for ObamaCare.
And Walden called it repair not replacement, “We need to work aggressively on the repairs to the individual market, to Obamacare. Some might call that replacement. I call that a rebuild. I call it repair.”
The House Ways and Means Committee will also hold a hearing on the individual mandate.
Source links: The Hill, The Washington Post — link 1, link 2