Where does the GOP Go on Obamacare?

September 6th, 2015

The Hill reports that now that the legal challenges are (for the most part) over, the attempts to unravel Obamacare will be through the legislative process. And the process is long:

Three months after their defeat at the Supreme Court, Republicans see a long road ahead for repealing ObamaCare.

“Nobody’s kidding themselves that there will be a repeal bill signed by this president while he’s in office,” House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said in an interview.

Even the process of using reconciliation–which only requires 51 votes, not 60 votes–has been “messy.”

Republicans’ biggest hurdle in using reconciliation will be keeping track of the rules.

“Reconciliation is a very, very complex and mysterious thing that I think not a single person has complete understanding of,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said.

Discussions have, so far, been kept between the House and Senate budget committees as well as the handful of committees with jurisdiction over healthcare.

The Senate parliamentarian will have perhaps the largest role, ensuring that lawmakers follow the chamber’s Byrd Rule. Under the rule, reconciliation bills cannot increase the deficit, and all provisions must directly relate to spending or revenue. That disqualifies some pieces of ObamaCare, like the mandatory benefits packages, Price said.

“What we’ve been working with our colleagues in the Senate is to try to identify all the things that are able to be repealed, that are possible through reconciliation through the Byrd rule,” Price said. He maintains that they have a lot of options.

“The array of things that are available to us are very broad,” he said, though declined to offer details.

What are they looking to repeal?

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), one of the Senate’s major players in the ObamaCare replacement debate, said he and others believe both the individual and employer mandates for insurance can be included in a reconciliation bill. He also pointed to unpopular pieces of the law such as the “Cadillac tax” goinginto effect next year and the Medicare cost-cutting panel known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

“I think reconciliation is the best way to get rid of the most egregious parts of the healthcare law,” he said, which he said would include “absolutely every part of the healthcare law that is reconcilable.”


I do not understand how these provisions–especially the Cadillac tax–can be eliminated without raising the deficit. Where will they find the money from to make up the difference?

In any event, the GOP recognizes that President Obama will veto any bill, but reconciliation opens opportunities for 2016:

Barrasso, and others, acknowledged that in the end, reconciliation is a chance to boost the party’s chances in future elections. If a reconciliation bill passes this fall, it tees up the healthcare law for the 2016 presidential debates — the arena where most Republicans believe the next ObamaCare fight will play out.

Most doubt whether the Obama administration would be willing to support any changes to the law.

“The president is living out there in La-La Land thinking the ObamaCare law is working so well,” Cassidy said. “He is not going to accept significant change. It is his legacy, he loves it.”

“At this point, his end game is preserving the law,” he said.

“It’s much more of a political vote than it is a policy vote because we know the president’s position,” Barrasso said.

One of the themes I’m developing in Unraveled is what problems the next President–Republican or Democrat (I won’t which one when it goes to press!)–will face with the ACA. Beyond calls to repeal, there are structural weaknesses in the law that will implode in 2017 and 2018.