Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) has asked President Donald Trump to request Congress cancel a recess scheduled for August so lawmakers can craft a health care reform package in time for a vote on Labor Day, September 4.
Sasse asked Trump to “publicly call on the Congress to do two things” in the event the legislature fails to pass an Obamacare replacement bill during the session that began on July 10: “to immediately repeal as much of ObamaCare as is possible under Congressional budget reconciliation rules, and then [to] cancel the scheduled August state work period and instead to spend that month working through regular order, six days per week, writing a health reform package with a vote to be scheduled on Labor Day,” according to Sasse’s June 30 letter, which was sent to Trump and released to the public.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) canceled a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, a proposal to repeal parts of Obamacare, on July 17.
After McConnell’s announcement, Trump tweeted, “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”
The Senate voted to begin debate on the House-approved American Health Care Act on July 25.
Back to ‘Plan A’
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) says people insured under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will remain insured for a while even if Congress repeals Obamacare.
“None of the plans that have been put forth to do a repeal first and then a replace [would] repeal it immediately,” Davidson said. “The idea that people are going to be left with nothing is a misfit that I think folks circulated to try and kill the idea.”
A straight repeal would revive the health insurance market by allowing people to buy new, cheaper plans outlawed by ACA, Davidson says.
“The advantage from a market perspective is that you can have the free market start issuing new plans that don’t have to comply with all the Obamacare guidances,” Davidson said.
Repealing Obamacare before replacing it was congressional Republicans’ plan when voters elected them in November 2016, Davidson says.
“The original plan was that it would be that way—it would be sequenced, and it would be a repeal, with a date certain in the future, then there would be a replace,” Davidson said. “The president didn’t like that initially, and a fair number of members of Congress made the case that if we don’t offer a replace with it that’s clear right away, then we’ll lose the momentum and there are downsides politically.”
Promises to Keep
Davidson says repeal and replacement of Obamacare is a hallmark promise the Republicans must keep.
“No Republican in this last election cycle campaigned on keeping Obamacare,” Davidson said. “This is an iconic promise for Republicans, and we need to deliver on it.”
Failure to repeal ACA soon could start a domino effect of failures to pass tax reform and address the debt ceiling, Davidson says.
“I think it’s very important that we get this done before August recess,” Davidson said. “We have to know the Obamacare resolution because it’s a combination of taxes and spending, and we have to know taxes, how much we’re going to be able to bring in. And you have to address the debt ceiling. So these things have to get done in context for us to deliver on time on September 30.”
At this rate, any health care legislation Congress passes will be only a starting point for reform, Davidson says.
“Whichever version of this bill we pass is going to be far too weak and far too limited to accomplish the reforms we need to fix our health care economy,” Davidson said. “So we really need to stay committed to solving the whole problem, not just passing this bill.”
Hayley Sledge ([email protected]) writes from Springboro, Ohio.
Kathy Hoekstra, “Free-Market Groups Urge HHS to Launch Phase II of Obamacare Repeal,” Health Care News, August 2017: https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/free-market-groups-urge-hhs-to-launch-phase-ii-of-obamacare-repeal?source=policybot
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH): https://davidson.house.gov/
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