Gregg: Repeal not best tactic on healthcare law

A top Senate Republican suggested Monday night that the party's prevailing strategies to curtail the new healthcare law might not be good ideas.

Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said that repealing the new healthcare reform law — or looking to defund it — were not good options.

"I don't think starving or repealing is probably the best approach here," Gregg said on the Fox Business Network. "You basically go in and restructure it."

That's a change of pace even for Gregg, who's been among almost all fellow Republicans in the House and Senate who've called for the repeal of the measure, which Democrats passed through Congress earlier this year and President Obama signed into law.

"Our view is, you repeal and replace this bill," Gregg said on CNN in March. "You replace it with better law and better approaches towards healthcare."

He also said on CNBC as recently as last month that using the budget reconciliation process to repeal major parts of healthcare reform were an option, too.

GOP leaders are finally nearing the point where they might be faced with actual options to curtail or eliminate the healthcare law. Republicans are hoping to win back control of the House in Nov. 2's elections, and the party could retake the majority in the Senate if it makes a net gain of 10 seats on Election Day.

The Republican "Pledge to America," the House GOP's election-year governing agenda, included a "plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of healthcare," and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who would become Speaker of the House under a GOP majority, said earlier this year that repealing the legislation was Republicans' "No. 1 priority."

Republicans have also openly acknowledged, though, that full repeal could be difficult as long as Obama is in the White House and the GOP is without veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate. GOP leaders have instead suggested they might look to defund elements of the bill and its implementation.

Repealing healthcare reform isn't the most politically popular move, either. Only 31 percent of registered voters told the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll that they favor repealing the legislation, though a separate poll conducted by Bloomberg News suggested that voters might want to see certain parts of the law stricken, like its tax on high-value insurance plans or its requirement that all individuals have health insurance.

Gregg said that some of the reforms in the existing legislation — including the cuts and savings in Medicare that Republicans had often decried during the debate over the legislation — "actually made some sense." But the longtime New Hampshire lawmaker, who's retiring at the end of his term in January, said that money should have been used to re-invest in Medicare.