Obamacare Repeal Delayed, Not Dead, Sen. Johnson Says

Published October 19, 2017

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) says the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a better, free-market solution is merely delayed, not dead.

Internal vote tallies for the U.S. Senate’s proposed amendment to House Resolution 1628, nicknamed “Graham-Cassidy” after sponsors Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), fell short of procedural thresholds in September, halting the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Johnson told CNN reporter Jake Tapper on October 8 the effort was not dead.

“I think it’s still alive and well, but we just we need more time,” Johnson told Tapper.

Says Bill Is Flawed

Avik Roy, president of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, says the Graham-Cassidy bill would have promoted bigger government.

“The block grants in Graham-Cassidy make it easier to have a left-wing health care program than a free-market program,” Roy said. “I think a flaw in conservatives is that we just say ‘block grant’ and think ‘Okay, perfect,’ instead of really thinking about the details of how a block grant is designed and structured.

“In this case, a block grant is designed in such a way that the end result, in my view, is likely to have the effect of putting more people on government health care, not fewer,” Roy said.

Graham-Cassidy needs technical fixes, Roy says.

“The block-grant approach can work, and maybe if Cassidy and Graham try again they’ll be in a better place—because they’ll have the ability to refine the bill further, to make technical changes to it—so that there’s more ability to have market-based health care [instead of] single-payer health care,” Roy said.

Best They Can Do?

Devon Herrick, a health care policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says Graham-Cassidy is the best Congress can do under current circumstances.

“Graham-Cassidy was the best possible outcome of a bad situation created by Obamacare,” Herrick said. “The worst part of Obamacare is that the federal health law created regulations that destabilized the individual market for health coverage. Premiums are skyrocketing while taxpayers bear the cost of subsidies and middle-class families have been priced out of the market.”

Market Repairs

Herrick says Graham-Cassidy would have fixed the most important problems with Obamacare.

“Graham-Cassidy would allow states to use cost-sharing subsidies, along with premium tax credits to repair health insurance markets in each state,” Herrick said. “For example, states could repeal regulations that make insurance costly, while using federal funds to subsidize costly enrollees with preexisting conditions.”

Roy says Congress should forget about replacing Obamacare and use free-market principles to fix the health care system.

“What we should be about is not merely replacing Obamacare, but about liberating every American from government-run health care and giving every American the opportunity to buy private health care and private health insurance,” Roy said.