Obamacare “Repeal and Replace” No Longer a Slam Dunk

House Republicans grapple with party divisions

Ever since the GOP got down to the business of repealing and replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), rebellious Senate Republicans have been singled out as the likely roadblock to plans passed by the House. But now it seems that a consensus in the House might be just as hard to reach, according to an article in The New York Times.

The most-conservative House members are pushing for a quick repeal of the PPACA with a bare-bones replacement to follow, while other Republicans want to craft a replacement plan before repeal.

Republicans are likely to win the 218 votes needed in the House to get the ball rolling, the Times notes, but gathering those votes is no longer the “slam dunk” that they had with previous bills to repeal the PPACA, when lawmakers knew their efforts would die in the Senate or on President Obama’s desk.

“If 25 conservative hard-liners oppose any robust replacement plan, and 30 swing-district House members demand a more generous plan, passage of a compromise bill will be in jeopardy,” according to the Times.

Some Republicans are now talking about “repairing” the PPACA rather than repealing it outright.

“When you talk about ‘repeal,’ you have just used a word that is very polarizing,” Representative Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey) told the Times. “When you go to Democrats and say, ‘Help us repeal,’ that puts them in a box. If you say, ‘Would you help us repair something?’ people start listening in a whole other way.”

MacArthur was one of nine Republicans who voted against the initial bill to start the repeal process last month.

Republicans have been grappling with the divisions in their ranks for some time. Shortly after the election, during a GOP retreat in Pennsylvania, many members privately complained about repealing the PPACA without a clear replacement plan and about using the repeal effort as an avenue to defund Planned Parenthood, according to an unauthorized recording of the meeting anonymously supplied to the Times and other newspapers.

Source: The New York Times; February 23, 2017.