Case for repeal laid out at conservative think-tanks

Conservatives made the case for repealing healthcare reform at two separate think-tank events Thursday.

Several panelists at a Hudson Institute forum on whether Congress can repeal healthcare reform when the Senate and the presidency remain in Democrats' hands said it's important for House Republicans to make incremental changes to the bill to show voters what the GOP's solutions are. But they also urged Republicans to keep in mind that their eventual goal is repealing the bill.

"You don't want to improve the bill," said James Capretta, a former Office of Management and Budget staffer. "The bill is unredeemable."

Capretta said Republicans should be able to build bridges with centrist Democrats by proposing specific fixes. That could "isolate" the White House and make it harder to veto stand-alone provisions that have bipartisan support.

These could include: 

• Delaying cuts to Medicare Advantage until 2013, offset by delays to the subsidies for people to buy insurance;

• A straight repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is charged with recommending cuts if Medicare costs grow too fast;

• Amending the law's language regarding Accountable Care Organizations by having seniors on Medicare consent to being assigned a specific managed-care type setting based on the pattern of care that they need; and 

• Giving states more flexibility in how to implement the law.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was invited to address the Heritage Foundation.

"Over the past week," he said in prepared remarks, "some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office. But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things it is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things. We can hope the president will start listening to the electorate after Tuesday's election. But we can't plan on it.

"On healthcare, that means we can — and should — propose and vote on straight repeal, repeatedly. But we can't expect the president to sign it. So we'll also have to work, in the House, on denying funds for implementation, and, in the Senate, on votes against its most egregious provisions."