By Russell Berman - 09/18/13 01:50 PM EDT
Conservatives representing nearly three-quarters of the House Republican conference unveiled their proposed replacement for President Obama’s healthcare law Wednesday, delivering on a long-delayed GOP promise.
The bill from the Republican Study Committee would fully repeal the 2010 law and replace it with an expansion of health savings accounts, medical liability reform and the elimination of restrictions on purchasing insurance across state lines.
It comes as House Republicans prepare to press for defunding or delaying ObamaCare in a series of fiscal clashes with the president. Democrats have long mocked Republicans for failing to follow through on half of their “repeal and replace” message on the healthcare law.
“I think we’ve done a very effective job at pointing out all the things that are wrong with the president’s healthcare law, but people want to know what we stand for,” Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said at a breakfast hosted by the National Review.
“I will be pushing our leadership to actually move this bill through the process because I think it’s important that we have an alternative to the president’s healthcare law, so we can put the two side by side.”
The ideas in the bill represent a collection of proposals that Republican presidents and candidates have repeatedly offered over the years.
Scalise said the bill contains no overlap with ObamaCare.
“This is 180 degrees different,” Scalise said.
But the bill could set Republicans up for political attacks by scrapping popular provisions in ObamaCare like a prohibition on denying health insurance to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
“We work with the existing state high-risk pools that are out there,” Scalise said in regards to people with pre-existing conditions. The bill provides $25 billion over 10 years to enhance the state pools, “so an individual with pre-existing conditions can go and buy at market rates.”
“We put our money where our mouth is,” Scalise said.
Scalise tapped a member of the House Doctors Caucus, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), to lead a working group that met once or twice a week over the last several months to draft the proposal.
Roe said Scalise came to him a few months ago with a set of marching orders. “He said you can’t have any mandates in this bill. You can’t raise taxes. You’ve got to reform the tax code, but there can’t be any subsidies involved,” Roe recalled. “That’s pretty limited in what we can do. I think within those parameters, we came up with a pretty good bill.”