Key GOP senator: Replacing ObamaCare could take years

Sen. Lamar Alexander is predicting it will take years to repeal and replace ObamaCare, with Republicans needing support from Democrats to approve a new healthcare law.
“I imagine [it] will take several years to completely make that sort of transition to make sure we do no harm, create a good healthcare system that everyone has access to and we repeal the parts of ObamaCare that need to be repealed,” the Tennessee Republican told reporters on Thursday.
{mosads}Alexander — who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — said approving an alternative to the Affordable Care Act is hard because lawmakers have “spent six years as the Hatfields and the McCoys, you know, adopting our positions and shooting at each other.”
The GOP senator believes that the process to repeal and replace ObamaCare — which GOP leadership has pledged to do for years — would be incremental and would require support from Democrats. If senators take a replacement law through “regular order” in the Senate they would need to be able to overcome a 60-vote procedural threshold.
“Eventually, we’ll need 60 votes to complete the process of replacing ObamaCare and repealing it because ObamaCare was not passed by reconciliation; it was passed by 60 votes. And it was cleaned up by reconciliation because Scott Brown won his election,” he said. 
Alexander offered few details on what a GOP replacement would look like, but stressed that more decision-making power should go back to the states and Americans shouldn’t expect “McConnellCare” to replace President Obama’s signature healthcare law. 
“What we need to do is make lower-cost insurance available to most Americans,” he told reporters. “The exchanges are the problem. They need to be repealed; the individual mandate needs to be repealed. … But I think what we need to focus on first is what we would replace it with and what are the steps we would take to do that.” 
He added that a provision in ObamaCare making it easier for individuals with pre-existing conditions to get insurance would stay, though it could take a different form, as well as a measure that allows parents to keep their children on their health insurance until they are 26. 
President-elect Donald Trump has also supported keeping some version of the two provisions. 
Though some House Republicans have proposed bending the rules to rush through reconciliation in January, Alexander warned it could take months to repeal ObamaCare. 
“A reconciliation package only gives instructions to committees to go to work to solve the problem. A reconciliation package by itself doesn’t repeal anything,” he said. “It gives you months to go to work to solve the problem.”
Tags Donald Trump Lamar Alexander

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