GOP divided on ObamaCare replacement

GOP divided on ObamaCare replacement
© Getty Images

GOP senators unveiled a new replacement for ObamaCare this week, but few conservatives are rallying around it.

The same week the GOP House voted for a fourth time to fully repeal ObamaCare, the party remains divided over what would come next.

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE (R-Ohio) said the latest proposal from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) and other Republicans would be one part of the conversation on replacing ObamaCare, hardly a ringing endorsement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money — Democrats tee up Senate spending battles with GOP The Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight Treasury to use extraordinary measures despite debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Ky.) did not make any public comments on the plan and declined to comment to The Hill through a representative.

Even Hatch and the plan’s other sponsors — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrDemocratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (R-N.C.) — acknowledged the difficulty in uniting their party.

In an interview with Fox News late Thursday, Burr said he did not believe that Republicans would rally around a single alternative before the presidential election.

“I think that there are going to be a lot of ideas not only in Congress but around the think tanks here in Washington and around the country,” Burr told Fox News’s Bret Baier.

The GOP has been scrambling for a replacement plan for years, though the clock is now ticking, with the looming Supreme Court case, King v Burwell, that could eliminate insurance subsidies essential to the law. The court's decision, which will be argued March 4, is expected in June.  

The legislation approved by the House asks several committees to get to work on a replacement plan. But it includes no deadlines for their work.

With a crowded field of prospective 2016 GOP candidates for the White House, it's possible there could be a number of competing Republicans plans. 

While multiple groups of Republicans have worked on replacement options since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, none has evolved into a bill, drawing attacks from Democrats.

“My Republican friends have had five years and they still haven’t produced actual legislation,” Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyExpats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines Growing number of Democrats endorse abolishing debt limit altogether Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (D-Conn.) told reporters Thursday as he condemned the new GOP plan.

Hours before the Republican trio officially unveiled its plan, a group of Senate and House aides stressed to reporters that creating a full replacement bill would be a long process.

One aide said that it would be hard to believe that a full replacement would happen before 2017, though the staffs were preparing for it. The aide said their bosses wanted to put credible ideas out there because they were tired of hearing that the party had no ideas.

One of the plan’s only endorsements came from freshman Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine), who was facing pressure after bucking the party on the ObamaCare repeal vote earlier in the week. But he too said that he wanted to consider all the options.

“There'll be several other plans put on the table over the coming weeks. I look forward to evaluating each of them,” Poliquin said in a video released by his office.