Congress should repeal ObamaCare using budget reconciliation

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The recent election results reflect overwhelming unrest across the country, particularly about the broken state of healthcare. Americans have seen first-hand how ObamaCare fails to deliver on the lofty promises made by its namesake and his allies in Congress. Millions of Americans have faced canceled insurance plans, reduced access to health care providers, and double-digit premium increases over the course of its implementation. 

Those lawmakers who vowed to oppose this failed health care law finally have an opportunity to put their campaign promises into action early next year. Working with President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans in the 115th Congress can finally repeal major parts of President Obama’s signature law using the budget reconciliation process, relieving Americans from its most burdensome mandates and costs.

{mosads}Of course, few things are so simple in Washington. Despite the myriad positive provisions that will end up in any bill repealing elements of ObamaCare, some legislators on Capitol Hill may criticize the package for stopping short of full repeal, or for failing to include a replacement plan. Doing so risks passing up an unprecedented opportunity to protect millions of Americans from ObamaCare’s most onerous provisions.

In fact, the budget reconciliation process means lawmakers have their best chance yet at undoing negative elements of ObamaCare. The advantage to using the budget reconciliation process to repeal major provisions of the president’s health care law is that it will require only a simple majority in the Senate and House to move forward. It also cannot be filibustered, making it easier for Congress to send to the President’s desk.

The disadvantage is that it may not be possible to repeal the law in its entirety. There’s difficulty in repealing the provisions in the law that do not have a direct budgetary impact, such as the insurance mandates requiring plans to offer a certain set of benefits dictated by bureaucrats in Washington.

Yet the opportunity to erase years of bad policy is too valuable to pass up. If complicated Senate precedents and procedure make repealing the entire healthcare law difficult, then lawmakers should aim to repeal what’s leftover through other legislative efforts. In tandem with pursuing reconciliation instructions that dismantle major provisions in ObamaCare, members of Congress should pursue standalone efforts to eradicate the health care law’s other failings. Passing legislation to stop the harmful insurance mandates and preventing the use of taxpayer dollars to bail out insurance companies are just some positive steps Congress can take to protect taxpayers and those in need of better health care options.   

The reconciliation package put together by Congress nearly two years ago provides a commendable baseline for the legislative package currently coming together. The 2015 legislation, which passed both chambers of Congress before getting vetoed by President Obama, repealed many of the most burdensome provisions in the president’s healthcare law, including parts that are so terrible that even many Democrats supported repealing them. Major provisions subject to repeal included the mandates on individuals and employers, the medical device tax, the tax on high cost employer-sponsored health plans and the ObamaCare Slush Fund. Congress should repeal these parts at the very least.

The reforms included in the reconciliation package currently taking shape represent significant steps to relieving the American people of many of ObamaCare’s most significant burdens. As members of a new Congress work together and reach out to President Trump to bring about change, they should continue a long-term push for broader, free-market, patient-centered health care reforms. They must not squander this latest opportunity to improve well-being for all Americans.

Christine Harbin is director of federal affairs and strategic initiatives at Americans for Prosperity

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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