Republican lawmakers have finally unveiled a plan to repeal the major parts of Obamacare, capping years of attacks on the health insurance law, and a month-long debate that has exposed deep rifts within the GOP. Now comes the hard part.
House Republican leaders must seriously begin the difficult task of selling the new plan for the overhaul of the US health insurance and health care system to colleagues in both chambers on Capitol Hill, where there’s a myriad of conflicting interests. They will have to convince a skeptical public is worth it, just seven years after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act.
The political ramifications could not be more significant. Perceptions that the Republicans and President Donald Trump do not move forward with a wholesale repeal Obamacare would anger vast areas of the base of the party, while the possibility of millions of Americans who lose coverage could emerge as a superior liability for Republicans ahead of the midterm elections of 2018.
Trump is expected to offer a more robust embrace of the House GOP health care plan Tuesday when he meets with the team deputy whip in the White House, in the afternoon, an administration official told CNN Tuesday.
If Trump is committed to repeal and replace Obamacare political challenge remains a central issue.
“He’ll work hard to get this done,” said the administration official, including pushing reluctant conservatives helping to build support for this bill in their districts.
This is one reason Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was invited to the White House for dinner on Wednesday night. And ‘one of the skeptical conservatives who believe that the new bill is essentially a new mandate.
In the coming days, the key committees of the house will hold extended sessions to discuss and review a bill until Monday night was closely watched – including being held in a home office for legislators to view, but not copy. These meetings will provide plenty of opportunity for political grandstanding by the Democrats as they look to cast Republicans as responsible to take away the people’s health insurance.
The legislation unveiled Monday would scrap the individual mandate, an important pillar of Obamacare, replacing it with refundable tax credits for individuals to purchase health insurance. It would also restructure Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood.
The proposal – dubbed the “American Health insurance Act” – tries to keep the Obamacare protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but it should allow insurers to charge higher premiums for people whose coverage has lapsed. The bill should also keep in place the so-called “Cadillac” tax on employers who provide generous health insurance plans.