|Congressional Republicans Plan to Move Forward with Repeal of Obamacare|
|01/10/2017||Barack Obama||Lesley F|
|keywords: Repeal ObamaCare Executive Orders|
Despite increasing pressure from inside the Republican Party to delay a vote on repealing Obamacare until an alternative program is in place, congressional Republican leaders are pledging to move forward with a repeal vote before a fully-formed replacement program has been drafted.
However, following vocal criticisms from high-profile Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), top congressional Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) are now considering incorporating some elements of a replacement program into the repeal bill. According to aides, one possible option is an expansion of health savings accounts and the creation of higher-risk pools for the chronically ill at states' discretion. Republicans in Congress are also attempting to get the party to agree on a list of principles for a replacement health care program before voting on the repeal bill.
Congressional Republican leadership has stated that the plan is to repeal Obamacare before President-Elect Donald Trump's hundredth day in office, while some ambitious Republicans are aiming for a repeal vote by March. In either case, most agree that it is unlikely that a full replacement proposal will be in place by the time of the repeal vote. As Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) noted in a recent interview, "It's possible, but you've got to bring people together, which is always tough. It would be good to do so, but I'd rather have it be a good replacement and have it done right than something slap-dashed together."
Despite using the repeal of Obamacare as one of his campaign cornerstones, Trump has become one of the potential roadblocks to congressional Republicans' repeal-then-replace strategy. On Friday, Sen. Paul tweeted that Trump concurred with him that a vote on a full replacement plan should come at the same time as the repeal vote. Trump has not issued any response to Sen. Paul's claims, though it is expected that he will be pressed on the matter at a news conference scheduled for Wednesday.
Regardless of Trump's position on a repeal vote that does not include full replacement provisions, Republican leaders appear to be moving forward on the assumption that few in the party will vote against a repeal of Obamacare whatever the status of a replacement plan. Even Republicans critical of a repeal-then-replace strategy seem to agree. As Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) stated, "I'm going to vote for repeal. Would [a replacement plan] make it easier? Probably. But at this point, I don't that it's a deal killer."
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