Health Care

Republicans raise red flags about ObamaCare repeal strategy

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Several House Republicans are raising red flags about the GOP’s repeal-and-delay plan for ObamaCare in the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

At least three centrist GOP lawmakers voiced concerns about the “repeal first, replace later” plan during a closed-door meeting on Friday, three lawmakers in the room told The Hill.

{mosads}Members who voiced concerns about the longer-term repeal strategy included Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), sources said.

All three are members of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of centrist House Republicans. Dent is co-chair of the caucus.

One lawmaker said the moderates were “getting skittish” about leadership’s plan to replace the sprawling healthcare law within about a year of Trump’s inauguration, which they said would run too close to the 2018 midterms.  

“It’s going to be technical, all the insurance stuff. It’s hard work, putting that in play. But that’s the beginning of the next election cycle,” the lawmaker said.

GOP leaders in the House and Senate are aiming to pass legislation dismantling most parts of ObamaCare using a budget tactic called reconciliation in Trump’s first 100 days. The tactic would allow legislation to be approved in the Senate to avoid procedural vote filibusters.

Top lawmakers have acknowledged it would not go into effect immediately because Congress needs a transition period to pass a replacement. But that plan has spurred an intra-party battle among some conservative lawmakers and groups that argue it should be repealed immediately.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) spent much of Friday morning’s meeting outlining the broad logistics for the legislatively difficult move to repeal the law, which would require close coordination with the Senate.

Ryan confirmed that using reconciliation to repeal ObamaCare would be one of the chamber’s first acts in the new Congress, according to a readout of the meeting.

Another lawmaker in the room, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), said he believed there was an appetite for spending more time on working to replace the law.

“This whole process will be done thoughtfully. We do not want to move in haste,” said Murphy, who is vying to lead the health subpanel of the Energy and Commerce Committee next year. “Just as a surgeon does not jump to surgery without doing a proper diagnosis with x-rays, the same thing here.”

The repeal-and-delay strategy — which has gained traction since Trump’s election — will also require a separate strategy to replace the law. It will likely involve cooperation from Senate Democrats, which could drag out the replacement process.

“We know we can do a lot of repeal through reconciliation but you can’t do replace through reconciliation,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the House Budget Committee.

He said working with Democrats on a replacement would be one of GOP’s toughest issues: “There will be a lot of drama with this over the next year.”

Tags Donald Trump ObamaCare Paul Ryan

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