Conservatives Balk at Obamacare Overhaul

Revolt could scuttle GOP replacement plan

After waiting seven years to scrap the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Republican leaders suddenly find themselves faced with a revolt from the right that threatens to scuttle their efforts, according to an article in The New York Times. The House plan to “repeal and replace” the PPACA also drew criticism from more-moderate members of the GOP whose states have benefitted from Medicaid expansion under the act.

If more than a dozen House Republicans defect, the bill will be in jeopardy, according to the Times.

“Doing big things is never easy,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said at a news conference. Still, he guaranteed that he would gather the 218 votes needed for passage, saying, “The nightmare of Obamacare is about to end.”

Vice President Mike Pence met with conservative members of the House to assure them that their feedback was still being considered, and President Trump entertained a group of House Republicans charged with persuading their colleagues to vote for the measure.

“We’re going to do something that’s great, and I am proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives,” Trump said. “This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor, and this will be a plan where you can choose your plan. And you know what the plan is. This is the plan. It’s a complicated process, but actually it’s very simple; it’s called good health care.”

But some Republican lawmakers are not satisfied with the replacement option that the House has come up with.

“This is not the Obamacare repeal bill we’ve been waiting for,” said Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), who was joined by several conservative groups. “It is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction. We promised the American people we would drain the swamp and end business as usual in Washington. This bill does not do that.”

Some conservatives have labeled the House plan “Obamacare Lite,” saying it is nearly as intrusive in the insurance market as the act it would replace. In particular, they dislike the delay in getting rid of the law’s Medicaid expansion. They also dislike the tax credits in the Republican plan, which can exceed the amount a consumer actually owes in federal income taxes, meaning that the Internal Revenue Service would be issuing checks to cover insurance premiums. The House plan also maintains many of the demands on insurers that the PPACA has, including a suite of “essential benefits” that all insurers must offer.

Source: The New York Times; March 8, 2017.