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Conservative Republicans Dismiss Call for Caution When Scrapping Obamacare

Congress should pass 2015 partial-repeal bill vetoed by Obama, senator says

Leading conservative Republicans in both the House and Senate say Congress is moving too slowly on efforts to “repeal and replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to an article posted on the Kaiser Health News website.

“We think it’s time to do something, and that’s to get rid of this law,” Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told reporters. “The biggest problem with waiting is that’s not what we told the voters.”

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of the leading conservative voices in that chamber, said he will vigorously oppose efforts for Republicans to wait until they have a plan ready to replace the act before they repeal it. “There is a lot less agreement about what comes next,” he said. “If we load down the repeal bill with what comes next, it’s harder to get both of them passed.”

After getting off to a quick start, GOP efforts to dismantle the PPACA appear to have slowed considerably, according to the Kaiser report. House and Senate committees have already missed a deadline of January 27 to write and pass their proposed repeal, although Senate leaders acknowledged earlier this year that they were unlikely to meet that goal. At a party retreat in Philadelphia last month, Republicans still seemed uncertain about how and when they would proceed. And in a television interview that aired just before the Super Bowl, President Trump remarked that the effort to remake the PPACA could last into next year.

GOP conservatives, however, are pushing back.

Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), who heads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he recognizes that people are “anxious” about changing the PPACA. “The quicker we can give them answers, the better off we are,” he said.

“Health care gets better and costs less once you repeal Obamacare,” Jordan added.

All three said they are sensitive to the needs of health insurers, who are threatening to stop offering coverage in the individual market after this year unless they get a better idea of the rules that they will have to follow.

“Every month that goes by, we create a heavier burden for insurance companies to figure out,” Meadows said.

At a minimum, Lee said, Congress should again pass a bill that was passed in 2015 but was vetoed by President Obama. That partial-repeal bill would have eliminated the expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor, as well as all the insurance subsidies that help people afford coverage and the taxes that pay for the program.

Insurers and others, including the Congressional Budget Office, have said that repealing parts of the PPACA without a replacement could plunge the individual insurance market into chaos and increase the number of people without insurance by 32 million over 10 years. But conservative Republicans reject that characterization.

“The chaos the American people are facing right now is related to a set of circumstances put in place by Obamacare,” Lee said. “I wish there were a nonchaotic path [to fix it].”

Source: Kaiser Health News; February 8, 2017.

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