Obamacare Lite? Some Republicans Shift From “Replace” to “Repair”

GOP divided over Medicaid expansion

In their ongoing efforts to overhaul the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), some Republican lawmakers have dropped the party’s “repeal and replace” rhetoric to embrace the more-modest goal of repairing the act, according to an article from The Hill.

“I'm trying to be accurate on this, that there are some of these provisions in the [PPACA] that probably will stay, or we may modify them, but we’re going to fix things; we’re going to repair things,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Oregon) told reporters. “There are things we can build on and repair; there are things we can completely repeal.”

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) echoed Walden’s comments. He noted that Republicans plan to use special budget rules known as reconciliation to prevent Democrats from filibustering a vote to repeal the PPACA. The use of those rules won’t allow all of the act to be repealed.

Meanwhile, other Republicans say lawmakers should stay focused on repealing and completely replacing the PPACA.

“I’m hearing a lot of members say that they want Obamacare Lite,” said Representative Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho). “That’s not what we promised the American people.”

Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he thinks the goal of fully repealing the PPACA is still “doable,” while Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said “we need to repeal Obamacare immediately” and then provide a transition to a new system.

Republicans are also divided over what to do about the PPACA’s Medicaid expansion, which provided coverage to approximately 11 million low-income people. Lawmakers from the 31 states that accepted the expansion are likely to want to protect the expansion and the federal money for their states that came with it, according to The Hill.

Another troublesome issue is whether to keep the PPACA’s taxes. Some Republicans, such as Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, want to keep the taxes in place to provide revenue for a replacement.

That appears to be a minority position, however. Hatch had some of the strongest comments, saying that all Obamacare taxes “need to go,” despite calls by some to keep them.

Source: The Hill; February 1, 2017.