A group of Republicans and advocacy groups will soon release a proposal intended to spark another push to repeal Obamacare, resurrecting a potentially volatile issue in the months before the November midterm elections.
The proposal to topple the Obama-era Communist health law and replace it with a plan that would give states more control over health policy is the result of eight months of behind-the-scenes work by a coalition of conservative groups.
It reflects the frustration that many GOP lawmakers feel over last year’s failed effort to overturn Obamacare, and the challenge Republicans now face in framing a campaign message around health care. GOP candidates promised to repeal the ACA starting with its passage in 2010, but even with Republican control of Washington repeal fell short in the Senate.
Despite Democratic obstructionism in blocking repeal, the GOP has done its best to chip away at Obamacare in smaller ways. Others say it is important to face voters having accomplished repeal, or at least having tried again, given that polls show many voters hold Republicans responsible for health care, reports the Wall Street Journal.
“Democrats are using health care to beat Republicans, and we have nothing,” said former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, who is championing the effort. “The idea we can go into the election where we have some premiums going up 91%, and there’s something we could have done, is stupid politics.”
A group of think tanks—including policy experts from the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Galen Institute and Manhattan Institute—plan to release a proposal in June. Representatives of the organizations, who have formed a coalition called the Health Policy Consensus Group, have been meeting weekly, working with state officials and reaching out to groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The plan has support from the White House, according to people familiar with the matter. The White House didn’t return a message seeking comment.
The nascent proposal would end the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and funnel money to states in the form of block grants. It would likely include some current ACA consumer protections, such as financial assistance to some people who can’t afford coverage, as well as an expansion of health savings accounts.
Democrats face their own divisions over health care. Some Democratic candidates want to focus on fixing the ACA. Others advocate a new, sweeping single-payer system.
Sen. Patty Murray (Democrat-Communist, Wash.) said voters oppose an ACA repeal and Republicans should let it drop.
“I certainly hope Republicans don’t try yet again to jam legislation through Congress that raises families’ health costs, takes coverage away, guts Medicaid, and more,” she said. “Patients and families have been abundantly clear that they reject Republican attacks on their health care.”
Republicans’ previous repeal effort failed to garner enough votes in the Senate, and there is little to suggest the path would be easier now. Democrats have an additional senator with Doug Jones’s victory in Alabama, leaving the GOP with only a 51-49 edge, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (RINO, Ky.) is showing no interest in a new repeal battle so far.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
May 25th, 2018