Paul Ryan: GOP Will Work on Repealing, Replacing Health Law

by Associated Press  on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 11:15 am  

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is among a group of Republicans wanting to work on repeal and replacement together.

WASHINGTON - Republicans will work on unraveling and replacing the health care law at the same time, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday as GOP leaders struggled to align their zeal to rapidly erase one of President Barack Obama's proudest achievements with Congress' legislative and political pitfalls.

Ryan, R-Wis., spoke to reporters amid growing concern among Republican lawmakers about erasing Obama's overhaul -which expanded coverage to 20 million people - without having an alternative to show voters. Republicans have been divided for years over how to replace the statute, and the process of crafting replacement legislation they can unify behind is likely to take months or longer.

"It is our goal to bring it all together concurrently," Ryan said.

"We will pass as much as we can" initially, Ryan said. He said Republicans would then produce a second bill to "show you the full scope of what a real replacement effort looks like."

President-elect Donald Trump has said he supports erasing Obama's law and replacing it simultaneously. Congressional leaders had said in recent weeks that they would quickly repeal the statute and with a delayed effective date, and then work on replacing it.

Also: Arkansas' health care industry braces for Obamacare repeal.

According to Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., Ryan told Republicans Tuesdaythat "he had a conversation yesterday with Donald Trump, and they're on the same page."

GOP leaders have made dismantling Obama's treasured health care overhaul their premier 2017 priority. But at least six GOP senators and some House members have expressed qualms about repeal without having a substitute.

The Senate and House are expected to approve a GOP-written budget this week that will serve a crucial procedural purpose - blocking Democrats from using a Senate filibuster to derail a future bill dismantling the health care statute. That's important because filibusters take 60 votes to halt in a chamber that Republicans control by only a 52-48 margin.

Republicans plan to then write legislation erasing much of the health care law and adding some new elements they prefer, perhaps including expanded use of health savings accounts.

But Senate rules limit the provisions that can be put into a bill that's protected against a filibuster. That means Republicans would need a second, subsequent bill to fully rewrite the health care law, and that measure would need at least eight Democratic votes to pass the Senate.

Even if Congress passed repeal rapidly, Republicans say they would phase it in, perhaps over two or three years. Republicans don't want to be vulnerable to Democrats already accusing them of preparing to tear down the statute without knowing how or if they'll replace it.

 

 

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