Conservative groups outline new ObamaCare repeal plan

Conservative groups outline new ObamaCare repeal plan
© Greg Nash

A coalition of conservative groups on Tuesday released the outlines of a new plan for repealing and replacing ObamaCare, indicating that at least some corners of the Republican Party are still pushing for repeal.

The plan was drafted by groups led by the Heritage Foundation, the Galen Institute and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who have been leading meetings for months.

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It is similar to the plan from Sens. Bill CassidyBill CassidySunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist Legislators look to expand health care access through telehealth, biosimilars Infrastructure deal is proof that Congress can still do good, bipartisan work MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.), which failed to pass last year, in that it eliminates ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and the subsidies to help people buy coverage, instead converting that money into block grants to states.

The effort has very little, if any, chance of passing this year. GOP congressional leadership has made clear that it has moved on from the issue. And Republicans have even fewer votes in the Senate than they did last year, when they failed to get enough votes to pass a repeal bill.

If Republicans are able to keep the House and gain seats in the Senate in this year’s elections, however, it is conceivable they could return to the repeal effort in 2019. 

“After efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare fell short last year, many in Congress seem resigned to accepting the status quo or even willing to bail out and prop up the program,” the new plan’s text states. “But Obamacare is broken, can’t be fixed, and continues to do great harm.”

The groups will hold an event on Wednesday to formally unveil the proposal. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) will be in attendance, but, notably, no members of Congress are listed on an invitation for it.

Graham has said that he is separately working on a new ObamaCare repeal proposal. 

The plan does not specify the details of how the amount of funding in its new block grants would be calculated, a key detail that states would be watching closely to learn which states win and lose.

Experts note that block grants, though, could lead to cuts in health services if they do not grow over time in the way that the current open-ended system does.

The plan also eliminates ObamaCare’s essential health benefits, which require plans to cover a range of services like mental health and prescription drugs. Backers argue this would lead to cheaper plans being available.

“Americans' health care will never be safe so long as the GOP has unchecked control of Washington,” House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden marks World AIDS Day with new actions to end HIV epidemic by 2030 DeFazio becomes 19th House Democrat to retire Pelosi: Democrats can't allow 'indecent' Boebert comments to stand MORE (Calif.) said in a statement in response to the plan.