President Trump has backed off on a new push to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
All last week President Trump pushed Republicans — especially those in the Senate — to repeal and replace ObamaCare. He declared the Republican Party the party of healthcare and insisted plans everyone will “love” are in the works.
Trump made that pronouncement several times to anyone listening. One tweet went like this: “The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare,” he said. “In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley chairs the Senate Finance Committee. His committee handles health care. So does Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Neither Senator was told that Trump was going to encourage further undoing of ObamaCare and the passage of something new.
Both worry the decision is going to send the Republicans back into another healthcare battle with Democrats. That’s not a good idea — they say — because the public likes a lot of what ObamaCare does.
And neither senator said their committees are working on anything resembling a plan. “Obamacare is something that’s not going to be replaced unless the courts would declare it unconstitutional,” Grassley said. “You won’t know that for a long time.”
Now the president has backed off and late Monday night and early Tuesday morning tweeted that the reforms will have to wait until after the 2020 election. Along with those tweets was his usual bashing of ObamaCare.
“Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House,” Trump tweeted. “It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America.”
But Trump has no plan.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso says he’s talked with the president about repeal and replacing ObamaCare and that he actually does have ideas on what to do.
“He wants to preserve people being able to get their insurance through work and focused on people with preexisting conditions,” Barrasso said. “He is 100 percent committed to ensuring that people with preexisting conditions get covered, and I understand that and the president is also focused on lowering the cost of drugs.”
Barrasso says he — personally — has a plan and would work toward making it happen. He has pushed letting companies purchase limited-term health insurance free from many of ObamaCare’s mandated rules. A court — as we’ll see at the end of this story — has said no to that idea.
Other Republican ideas include that of Republican Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. They would rather see health care run by the states and are in favor of sending each state a block grant to handle those needs.
Graham has also urged the president to sit down with Democrats to come up with a bipartisan deal. So far — as you know — that hasn’t happened.
One of the reasons Trump backed off his surprise push last week can be summed up by the attitude of New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed. He said right now the big worry Trump and Republicans ought to focus on is the reaction of the public to any thoughts of repeal and replace.
This is especially true if the Supreme Court upholds Texas U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s recent ObamaCare ruling. “Repealing the entire law — or knocking it down in the court system with no plan to address the impasse — leaves millions of Americans in harm’s way, and they didn’t do anything,” Reed said. “We owe it to the American people to have a solid plan in place before that occurs.”
Maine’s moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins — like others — wants the president to slow down. She likes that he’s wanting Republicans to be known as the party of health care.
“I believe that he’s sort of got the cart before the horse, that you need to have a plan for what a replacement would be that would improve upon the ACA,” Collins said. “There are some very important, good provisions of the ACA that have helped expand health insurance for low-income Americans. I would not want to see those abandoned.”
Plus, Republicans are very conscious of how the public views ObamaCare. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found:
• 50% of us have a favorable view of ObamaCare
• 39% do not favor the law
One thing that may have stopped Trump from his ObamaCare repeal and replace stance is comments from Republicans in the Senate and House that don’t want to be named. Those comments go something like this:
• “It doesn’t seem to make sense politically.”
• “We would be crazy to try to go through what we went through again.”
• “I would think [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and crew would be using their influence to get the administration to stop this.”
• Trump is “throwing down a challenge in advance of the elections which makes it even more difficult.”
• “If you look at past history, we don’t really know how to do it.”
Another negative for the president comes from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has said he’s not willing to do anything until the president presents a plan. But — again — the president has not proposed anything.
McConnell has emphasized he’d rather see Republicans going after Democrats and the push of some — especially many of those now running for president — to provide Medicare for All.
Like many in the party, McConnell is remembering the November mid-term election in which dozens of seats were lost in the House because Democrats were able to successfully attack Republicans for their insistence that ObamaCare be repealed and then failing to do so.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is also worried that all Republicans are seen as wanting to do away with ObamaCare’s pre-existing condition rule. This perception — he says — will play into the hands of critical Democrats. If push comes to shove and something involving repeal and replace actually happens, then McCarthy says Republicans will take care of those with the most need.
“I’ll make this promise to you — and it’s a conversation I had with the president — the Republicans will make sure pre-existing conditions are protected,” McCarthy said. “The president and I have talked numerous times. We talked quite often. But this is one of the conversations we have, greatly, that we support protecting pre-existing conditions,” he said.
All this started In December when Judge O’Connor ruled since the income tax reforms of 2018 did away with the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, the entire law is unconstitutional. Of course, that decision will be appealed and will ultimately end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the meantime, the Department of Justice said since Reed made his decision, the pre-existing conditions of ObamaCare should also go away along with the law. What the Justice Department didn’t say was whether or not it would make a push to permanently do away with that ObamaCare mandate.
Plus, Reed’s decision came with instructions that the law should stay in place until the Supreme Court can do something final.
At the same time, in the District of Columbia, U.S. District Judge John Bates blocked a new rule from the Trump administration that says small businesses can band together to purchase health plans outside of ObamaCare that are less expensive and that offer less protections.
Bates — an appointee of President George W. Bush — said, “The Final Rule is clearly an end-run around the ACA. Indeed, as the President directed, and the Secretary of Labor confirmed, the Final Rule was designed to expand access to AHPs to avoid the most stringent requirements of the ACA.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco said the administration disagrees with Bates’ decision. It will likely appeal.
“The Administration will continue to fight for sole proprietors and small businesses so that they can have the freedom to band together to obtain more affordable, quality healthcare coverage,” Laco said. “The Association Health Plan rule opened healthcare options for dozens of associations representing thousands of small businesses and sole proprietors and provided them with access to the same type of affordable healthcare options offered by other employers.”
The administration also suffered a major defeat recently when a different Washington D.C.-based U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg said work requirements cannot be required for some recipients to get the Medicaid benefits providing health care.
That case involved individuals in Kentucky and Arkansas.
Source links: MSN, The Hill — link 1, link 2, The Washington Post — link 1, link 2, Associated Press
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