Republicans have a long way to go toward fully repealing ObamaCare

Republicans have a long way to go toward fully repealing ObamaCare
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As Republicans careen toward the midterms with tax reform under their belts and not much else, rumor has it that a small group of Republican senators are working with the White House and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) to revive the debate over ObamaCare repeal.

Their purpose is laudable. But, privately, conservatives across Capitol Hill are expressing concern that the proposal may not do enough to dismantle ObamaCare’s regulatory structure, reduce its colossal spending, or allow freedom to innovate outside the law’s stifling framework.

Though the group has not made any text public, the framework they have publicly discussed is based around a previous iteration of health care reform put forward last year by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyBill CassidyMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge As Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE (R-La.).


The bill’s premise — to devolve much of the health-care spending to the states — is a good starting point. But its implementing details are still unknown, leaving conservatives to wonder if the new bill will actually repeal ObamaCare and reform the health-care marketplace, or if it will simply recast much of the law’s worst elements with a few minor tweaks.

Conservatives have argued that any serious effort toward repeal must address ObamaCare’s regulatory mandates, which are the law’s primary cost drivers, increasing rates for those under 35 by between 60 and 92 percent.

Likewise, reform must also provide health care choice by removing ObamaCare’s one-size-fits-all approach. Instead of Washington bureaucrats deciding which health care Americans need, state and local governments closer and more accountable to their citizenry should be able to decide.

Whether it’s the 22 million Americans who purchase coverage on the individual market or the 155 million who get it through their employer, future reform efforts should ensure that all market participants have the option to purchase federally deregulated, affordable and sustained coverage.

Finally, no bill can call itself a reform bill without addressing ObamaCare’s gargantuan taxing and spending regime. ObamaCare is funded by taxes that exceed one trillion dollars, though costs of the law have quickly ballooned to over two trillion while impacting employment and household incomes across the country. Moreover, the law continues to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion through numerous loopholes, making it the largest expansion of abortion funding since Roe v. Wade. Future bills cannot leave these issues unaddressed.

Republicans don’t have forever to focus on repeal, which means that it is imperative that they get this next proposal right. Though the leadership in Congress has largely given up, the voters have not.

In a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll, health care ranked as the top issue that voters are focused on in the upcoming midterm elections, ahead of the economy, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE, and guns. The candidates running for congressional seats in 2018 have figured this out and are centering their campaigns around keeping Republican’s longstanding promise of repeal.

Steve Lonegan of New Jersey has made Congress’ failure to repeal and replace the law a signature campaign issue, and is actually looking like a contender in a battleground district. Likewise, Chip Roy in Texas and Russ Fulcher in Indiana are both running on eliminating ObamaCare’s costly regulations and taxpayer funded subsidies to insurance companies. Steve Bloom, running in Pennsylvania, has called Congress “cowardly” for failing to address the issue of repeal.

If these candidates are elected in November — and, if polls are to be believed, several of them likely will be — they will have done so in part on the strength of their promise not to settle for anything less than full repeal of ObamaCare. That means repeal of the costly regulations, the taxes, and the gargantuan spending regime.

Republicans, but conservatives, especially, are fooling themselves if they think replacing ObamaCare with an only marginally better Republican twin can fix the problems of government-run health care, or mislead the voters into thinking they have done so.

Voters are still waiting for a full repeal effort. Anything less will not suffice as a solution for candidates who will soon be elected on a message of repeal. Nor will it suffice for a party who has spent years making the same promise.

Rachel Bovard (@RachelBovard) is the senior director of policy for The Conservative Partnership, a nonprofit group headed by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint aimed at promoting limited government.