The real reason why ObamaCare repeal failed

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It was reconciliation, stupid.

It wasn’t the Democrats, the Freedom Caucus, Speaker Paul Ryan, President Donald Trump or the anti-Trump media that stopped the House from passing the American Health Care Act last week.

{mosads}It was reconciliation—the complex parliamentary process in the Senate that allows some bills to be passed with 51 votes instead of 60.


The Republican congressional leadership in the House was so focused on crafting a bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare that could get passed via reconciliation in the Senate they didn’t put the correct bill together.

Trying to thread a reconciliation needle they didn’t need to thread, GOP leaders broke the AHCA into three parts, saving the most important and most popular reforms until the end.

Then they spent weeks trying to explain why they had to engage in such arcane parliamentary maneuvering to get it passed in Senate.

As far as I could tell, Speaker Ryan was the only person in Washington who could explain how the process would work and why Ryancare/ObamaCare Lite had to be done in three separate stages.

Meanwhile, the public never really knew what the heck Ryan was talking about and the unfriendly mainstream news media spent their mornings looking for sympathetic victims of the GOP/Ryan/Trump health care plan.

What the House should have done was take its time and put everything into one big, well-crafted piece of legislation that would have satisfied the Freedom Caucus conservatives and not terrified the moderates.

The American Health Care Act would have passed the House with flying colors and the PR-value to Trump and Republicans would have been huge.

Yes, the big plan still would have had to be approved by the Senate.

And yes, it still would have needed 60 votes to pass—just as parts 2 and 3 of the failed Ryancare plan eventually would have needed.

But getting a health care reform bill through the Senate should never have been the House’s issue. That was always Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s issue.

It was always going to be McConnell’s job to carve out eight Democrat votes to join with Republicans in the Senate to pass their health care  reforms.

If McConnell didn’t get those eight votes, it would have been a tragedy for the country. But the political onus for the failure would have been on Sen. Chuck Schumer and the Democrats, not Trump and the Republicans.

The Republicans in the House violated the old adage: “Keep it simple, stupid.”

There were several good, long-overdue reforms in the Republican plan that virtually everyone supports—like buying health care insurance across state lines the way we can buy car insurance.

But as soon as they started worrying about reconciliation in the Senate, the House Republicans had to start tweaking the legislation—and they tweaked it out of existence.

If they can learn from their mistakes, Republicans in Congress and the White House have plenty of time to draw up a new and improved plan to replace ObamaCare with.

Despite the gloating, high-fiving and wishful thinking of the mainstream news media and Democrats like Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, ObamaCare has not been saved permanently from the congressional electric chair and the Trump presidency is not over.

Michael Reagan, author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan,” is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. He is the son of former President Ronald Reagan and Academy Award-winning actress Jane Wyman. Follow him on Twitter @ReaganWorld.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan
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