Momentum Grows on Capitol Hill for a 2015 Obamacare Repeal Repeat
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus (HFC) voted Monday to oppose an Obamacare repeal reconciliation bill that falls short of what Congress passed in 2015 and what then President Obama vetoed in 2016. The 2015 Obamacare repeal bill, H.R. 3762, got rid of the Obamacare subsidies, mandates, taxes, funding for Medicaid expansion, and included a two-year transition period. HFC includes about 40 House conservatives, a number large enough to prevent Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) from passing anything less.
Chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) – Mark Walker (R-NC) called on Congress to pass the 2015 bill as well, telling reporters: “Instead of continuing to spin our wheels, we need a starting place. What the Senate passed in October 2015 is the best starting place…Let’s get that on that on the books; then we can move quickly after that to put in replacement components.” The RSC includes about 160 members and also has significant influence in the House.
Today a group of Senate Republicans including Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-UT) also called for passing the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill.
Heritage Action asked Congress to re-pass H.R. 3762, as a minimum, back in December of last year to start, and then begin the process of enacting free-market healthcare reform once Obamacare was off the books. Instead, Republicans allowed the timeline to slip as they argue about various replacement plans.
Heritage Action supports a number of Obamacare replacement reforms including improving and expanding health savings accounts, deregulating the health insurance marketplace, equalizing the tax treatment of health insurance, and reforming Medicaid and Medicare, but repeal must come first. Heritage Action vice president of communications and government relations Dan Holler told reporters: “Those debates are extraordinarily important, but they should be saved for another day once Obamacare repeal is on the books and you can begin moving toward that transition period.”
While it appears momentum for this strategy is beginning to gain steam, some Republican members are concerned about repealing Medicaid funding, particularly those who live in states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. However, this may be a short sighted concern, since federal funding for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare is set to decrease by 5% this year, and 10% by 2020. Instead of bankrupting state budgets with Medicaid expansion, repealing Obamacare and enacting Medicaid reform will provide necessary financial relief now and allow state governments to address Medicaid patients in a fiscally responsible manner in the future.
Whatever happens, Republicans in Congress and President Trump promised to fully repeal Obamacare over and over again. The longer Congress delays, the less likely Obamacare repeal will ever happen, and the closer we are to the 2018 election.