Former House Freedom Caucus Chairman on Obamacare: ‘Let’s Repeal It as Quickly as We Can’

Several Republican congressmen from the House Freedom Caucus say they want a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, despite private talk from some GOP lawmakers about a partial repeal.

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.; Mark Meadows, R-N.C.; Raul Labrador, R-Idaho; Scott Perry, R-Pa.; Mark Sanford, R-S.C.; and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, were all present at the January meeting of Conversations with Conservatives, a monthly press Q&A hosted by conservative lawmakers and The Heritage Foundation.

When Jordan was asked how he felt about the progress Republican lawmakers had made on Obamacare, he said, “I’d like to see an acceleration of the front-end repeal side … let’s get rid of [Obamacare], that’s what we told the voters that we were going to do. Let’s repeal it as quickly as we can and let’s have the effective day be not three and four years down the road.”

The congressman from Ohio added, “health care will be better and cost less when Obamacare is gone.”

“Let’s get after it as soon as we can and repeal everything: every tax, every mandate, and most importantly, every single regulation because I believe that’s [what will be] driving down premiums and deductible costs,” concluded Jordan on the issue of an Obamacare repeal.

>>> Republicans Express Doubts Over Obamacare ‘Repeal and Replace’ Plan

Perry went on to stress the importance of having an alternative health care plan at or soon after the time of repeal, saying, “I do think that the repeal and the alternative needs to happen at the same [time], or …. with[in] a week or two or something like that.”

Labrador, Perry, Stanford, and Jordan all agreed that Obamacare must be repealed, with Sanford saying, “Just in terms of the political realm, I think as a vote for conservatives, it would be very difficult for any of us, at the end of the day, to not vote yes on repeal, whether it’s concurrent or not with regard to replace.”

Talking about a replacement for Obamacare, Labrador said, “I want to make sure that we’re gonna move to a free-market plan. And I’m encouraging our leadership to take a bold position on this and move as far away from Obamacare and government-centered health care as possible.”

Jordan agreed, saying, “Ideally, we’d like a plan that’s free-market oriented, patient-oriented, doctor-oriented, community-oriented; not [as] Washington-focused as Obamacare.”

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Republicans Express Doubts Over Obamacare ‘Repeal and Replace’ Plan

Some Republican lawmakers are beginning to have doubts about the GOP’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, they revealed in a closed-door gathering Thursday in Philadelphia.

But those lawmakers find themselves at odds with conservatives who have for years pushed for repeal of the Affordable Care Act—as well as the top Republican in the House.

“We have to repeal it,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said of Obamacare in an interview with The Daily Signal. “That’s what we told voters we’re going to do, and we have to repeal all of it. Every mandate. Every regulation.”

The Washington Post reported Friday that some Republicans appeared to be wavering over how to follow through on their long-held promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The Post obtained a recording of a session on health care held Thursday at House and Senate Republicans’  joint retreat at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.

Some lawmakers in the meeting expressed concerns over tackling major issues accompanying repeal of the health care law, including how to craft a replacement plan in a timely manner and whether to include a measure to defund Planned Parenthood in the repeal legislation.

Reps. Tom McClintock of California, John Faso of New York, and Tom MacArthur of New Jersey were among those The Post identified on the recording.

Despite their hesitations, however, House Speaker Paul Ryan reaffirmed the GOP’s commitment to rolling back the health care law this year.

“We have to move quickly because we’re in the midst of collapse [of the health care law],” Ryan said during an event Friday organized by Politico.

“We have a moral obligation to fix this problem. Period,” he said.

In a meeting with fellow Republicans in Philadelphia, Ryan mapped out a timeline for repealing and replacing the health care law. He told lawmakers that Congress would pass the bill repealing Obamacare by March or April.

Republicans initially planned to pass a repeal bill shortly after President Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

That legislation—passed through a budget tool called reconciliation—also would include parts of a replacement.

For years, conservatives such as Jordan, who previously chaired the roughly 40-member House Freedom Caucus, have made a target of Obamacare—which Congress passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote.

Now that Republicans have the numbers to successfully repeal the health care law,  Jordan is calling for Congress to move quickly.

“I want to do it as soon as we possibly can, because I start from the very fundamental premise that health care will be better and cost less when Obamacare is gone,” the Ohio Republican said. “So let’s get rid of it as quickly as we can.”

Despite a commitment to repealing Obamacare in coming weeks, some Republicans are skeptical that ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, should be included in that action.

That provision was part of the bill Republicans sent to President Barack Obama’s desk early last year to roll back major provisions of Obamacare.

Obama vetoed that bill. But with Republican control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, conservatives are pushing for the new repeal bill to at a minimum mirror the legislation passed last year.

Ryan said earlier this month that the House will include Planned Parenthood’s defunding in the budget reconciliation bill the chamber takes up this year.

And conservative lawmakers are urging the House speaker to follow through on that pledge.

“The repeal should include the Planned Parenthood defund language as well because, for goodness sake, that was in the bill we put on President Obama’s desk,” Jordan told The Daily Signal. “Are we going to put something less on President Trump’s desk than what we put on President Obama’s desk?”

“Of course the Planned Parenthood funding should be dealt with in that bill,” he said.

The post Republicans Express Doubts Over Obamacare ‘Repeal and Replace’ Plan appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Republicans Express Doubts Over Obamacare ‘Repeal and Replace’ Plan

Some Republican lawmakers are beginning to have doubts about the GOP’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, they revealed in a closed-door gathering Thursday in Philadelphia.

But those lawmakers find themselves at odds with conservatives who have for years pushed for repeal of the Affordable Care Act—as well as the top Republican in the House.

“We have to repeal it,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said of Obamacare in an interview with The Daily Signal. “That’s what we told voters we’re going to do, and we have to repeal all of it. Every mandate. Every regulation.”

The Washington Post reported Friday that some Republicans appeared to be wavering over how to follow through on their long-held promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The Post obtained a recording of a session on health care held Thursday at House and Senate Republicans’  joint retreat at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.

Some lawmakers in the meeting expressed concerns over tackling major issues accompanying repeal of the health care law, including how to craft a replacement plan in a timely manner and whether to include a measure to defund Planned Parenthood in the repeal legislation.

Reps. Tom McClintock of California, John Faso of New York, and Tom MacArthur of New Jersey were among those The Post identified on the recording.

Despite their hesitations, however, House Speaker Paul Ryan reaffirmed the GOP’s commitment to rolling back the health care law this year.

“We have to move quickly because we’re in the midst of collapse [of the health care law],” Ryan said during an event Friday organized by Politico.

“We have a moral obligation to fix this problem. Period,” he said.

In a meeting with fellow Republicans in Philadelphia, Ryan mapped out a timeline for repealing and replacing the health care law. He told lawmakers that Congress would pass the bill repealing Obamacare by March or April.

Republicans initially planned to pass a repeal bill shortly after President Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

That legislation—passed through a budget tool called reconciliation—also would include parts of a replacement.

For years, conservatives such as Jordan, who previously chaired the roughly 40-member House Freedom Caucus, have made a target of Obamacare—which Congress passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote.

Now that Republicans have the numbers to successfully repeal the health care law,  Jordan is calling for Congress to move quickly.

“I want to do it as soon as we possibly can, because I start from the very fundamental premise that health care will be better and cost less when Obamacare is gone,” the Ohio Republican said. “So let’s get rid of it as quickly as we can.”

Despite a commitment to repealing Obamacare in coming weeks, some Republicans are skeptical that ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, should be included in that action.

That provision was part of the bill Republicans sent to President Barack Obama’s desk early last year to roll back major provisions of Obamacare.

Obama vetoed that bill. But with Republican control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, conservatives are pushing for the new repeal bill to at a minimum mirror the legislation passed last year.

Ryan said earlier this month that the House will include Planned Parenthood’s defunding in the budget reconciliation bill the chamber takes up this year.

And conservative lawmakers are urging the House speaker to follow through on that pledge.

“The repeal should include the Planned Parenthood defund language as well because, for goodness sake, that was in the bill we put on President Obama’s desk,” Jordan told The Daily Signal. “Are we going to put something less on President Trump’s desk than what we put on President Obama’s desk?”

“Of course the Planned Parenthood funding should be dealt with in that bill,” he said.

The post Republicans Express Doubts Over Obamacare ‘Repeal and Replace’ Plan appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Republicans Express Doubts Over Obamacare ‘Repeal and Replace’ Plan

Some Republican lawmakers are beginning to have doubts about the GOP’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, they revealed in a closed-door gathering Thursday in Philadelphia.

But those lawmakers find themselves at odds with conservatives who have for years pushed for repeal of the Affordable Care Act—as well as the top Republican in the House.

“We have to repeal it,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said of Obamacare in an interview with The Daily Signal. “That’s what we told voters we’re going to do, and we have to repeal all of it. Every mandate. Every regulation.”

The Washington Post reported Friday that some Republicans appeared to be wavering over how to follow through on their long-held promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The Post obtained a recording of a session on health care held Thursday at House and Senate Republicans’  joint retreat at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.

Some lawmakers in the meeting expressed concerns over tackling major issues accompanying repeal of the health care law, including how to craft a replacement plan in a timely manner and whether to include a measure to defund Planned Parenthood in the repeal legislation.

Reps. Tom McClintock of California, John Faso of New York, and Tom MacArthur of New Jersey were among those The Post identified on the recording.

Despite their hesitations, however, House Speaker Paul Ryan reaffirmed the GOP’s commitment to rolling back the health care law this year.

“We have to move quickly because we’re in the midst of collapse [of the health care law],” Ryan said during an event Friday organized by Politico.

“We have a moral obligation to fix this problem. Period,” he said.

In a meeting with fellow Republicans in Philadelphia, Ryan mapped out a timeline for repealing and replacing the health care law. He told lawmakers that Congress would pass the bill repealing Obamacare by March or April.

Republicans initially planned to pass a repeal bill shortly after President Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

That legislation—passed through a budget tool called reconciliation—also would include parts of a replacement.

For years, conservatives such as Jordan, who previously chaired the roughly 40-member House Freedom Caucus, have made a target of Obamacare—which Congress passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote.

Now that Republicans have the numbers to successfully repeal the health care law,  Jordan is calling for Congress to move quickly.

“I want to do it as soon as we possibly can, because I start from the very fundamental premise that health care will be better and cost less when Obamacare is gone,” the Ohio Republican said. “So let’s get rid of it as quickly as we can.”

Despite a commitment to repealing Obamacare in coming weeks, some Republicans are skeptical that ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, should be included in that action.

That provision was part of the bill Republicans sent to President Barack Obama’s desk early last year to roll back major provisions of Obamacare.

Obama vetoed that bill. But with Republican control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, conservatives are pushing for the new repeal bill to at a minimum mirror the legislation passed last year.

Ryan said earlier this month that the House will include Planned Parenthood’s defunding in the budget reconciliation bill the chamber takes up this year.

And conservative lawmakers are urging the House speaker to follow through on that pledge.

“The repeal should include the Planned Parenthood defund language as well because, for goodness sake, that was in the bill we put on President Obama’s desk,” Jordan told The Daily Signal. “Are we going to put something less on President Trump’s desk than what we put on President Obama’s desk?”

“Of course the Planned Parenthood funding should be dealt with in that bill,” he said.

The post Republicans Express Doubts Over Obamacare ‘Repeal and Replace’ Plan appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Why a Delay of Obamacare Repeal Threatens Pro-Life Goals

As thousands gather in Washington, D.C., this weekend to participate in the March for Life, troubling signs are appearing that congressional Republicans may not be as committed to the life agenda as they once were.

The pro-life movement has long advocated stripping funds to America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. The movement has also supported the right to religious liberty for those organizations who have conscience objections to paying for contraception.

(It was the latter issue, you may recall, that was challenged when the Obama administration decided to sue Catholic nuns in the Supreme Court.)

In 2015, the pro-life movement secured a victory in both these areas with the passage of an Obamacare repeal bill that eliminated taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood and protected conscience rights.

Though the bill was later vetoed by President Barack Obama, the 2015 bill is reportedly being used as baseline architecture for the 2017 repeal effort.

Unfortunately, certain congressional Republicans no longer seem to be on the same page with pro-lifers.

Just this week, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., introduced a bill designed to keep parts of Obamacare in place—but even worse, their bill actually went further than Obamacare in funding abortion coverage.

(For a detailed explanation of how, see here. A Cassidy staffer told Yahoo News that the bill will be altered, but until it is, conservatives should be concerned.)

Then there is the news from the Republican retreat in Philadelphia this week, where House Speaker Paul Ryan is looking to delay the repeal of Obamacare until the spring or summer.

This is hugely problematic, as a delay of Obamacare is the first step toward ensuring the effort never happens at all.

Why?

First, there is simply the question of will. The longer something is delayed in Congress, the less likely it is that action is taken.

Delaying repeal allows members of Congress to focus elsewhere, to come up with justifications not to do something, or even to make arguments for keeping parts of Obamacare.

One of the unspoken (but ironclad) rules in Washington holds that, if given enough time, members of Congress will always come up with an excuse not to act.

Second, and more critically, a delay means it is less likely that the budgetary fast-track tool known as reconciliation can be used to repeal Obamacare.

The reconciliation process is a necessary first step in initiating the full repeal of the law, for the primary reason that it can avoid the Senate filibuster—that is, instead of requiring 60 votes to pass, like most things in the Senate, reconciliation can be passed with only 51.

For the pro-life movement, this is a “now or nothing” moment.

Either Congress will expedite repeal of Obamacare through reconciliation, and Planned Parenthood will be stripped of its federal funding. Or Congress will delay it, thus threatening the successful use of reconciliation—and the pro-life movement will get nothing.

The simple reality is this. If Planned Parenthood is going to be defunded in Obamacare, reconciliation must be used. Otherwise, the provision will succumb to a Democratic filibuster, and be removed from the bill.

The longer the GOP continues to delay on repeal, the more unlikely it is it’ll be able to use the reconciliation vehicle to repeal Obamacare, much less to defund Planned Parenthood.

The rhetoric coming out of the Republican retreat this week underscores the seriousness of the situation for the pro-life movement. Though the House has proven its pro-life mettle with the passage of bills like H.R. 7, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not commit to bringing pro-life bills to the Senate floor.

This leaves just one area for pro-life priorities to gain any real traction this Congress, and that’s in the repeal of Obamacare through reconciliation.

The pro-life movement has made significant strides in the decades since Roe vs. Wade. As Vice President Mike Pence told crowds of marchers on Friday afternoon, “Life is winning again in America.

However, unless Congress acts in the next several weeks to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood, it’ll effectively be putting a ceiling on what the pro-life movement can accomplish this year—and for years to come.

The post Why a Delay of Obamacare Repeal Threatens Pro-Life Goals appeared first on The Daily Signal.

New Data Show Obamacare Insures Less Than 20 Million, Most on Medicaid

Many Obamacare supporters claim the law has expanded health coverage to upwards of 20 million Americans, but new data shows that isn’t accurate.

As part of Congress’ continued push to repeal Obamacare, the House Budget Committee held a hearing this week titled “The Failures of Obamacare: Harmful Effects and Broken Promises.”

Heritage Foundation expert Ed Haislmaier was one of four expert witnesses who testified.

Haislmaier presented new data regarding gains in health coverage since the full implementation of Obamacare began in 2014.

Most of the reports on coverage gains, such as the Obama administration’s, are typically based on government or private survey data rather than actually counting the change in private insurance or Medicaid program enrollments.

Haislmaier’s testimony highlighted his previous findings that only about 14 million people had gained coverage during the first two years of Obamacare’s full implementation (2014-2015). In addition, he reported preliminary findings for 2016.

Data is not yet available for the full year, but based on the first three quarters of 2016, Haislmaier finds a net total increase in coverage of about another 2.5 million people.

He explains:

The preliminary data show that during that period, enrollment in the individual market grew by 842,028 individuals, enrollment in fully insured employer plans declined by 1,128,597 individuals, enrollment in self-insured employer plans increased by 776,780 individuals, and Medicaid and CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program] enrollment increased by 2,044,809 individuals.

In sum, Medicaid coverage accounts for 81 percent of the total gain in coverage for the first three quarters of 2016. This is consistent with Haislmaier’s previous findings that the bulk of the coverage gains since Obamacare’s full implementation have been in the Medicaid program, not private insurance.

Adding the 2016 preliminary data to the coverage gains from 2014 and 2015, there has been a total net gain in coverage of 16.5 million individuals from Obamacare’s launch through the first three quarters of 2016.

Medicaid coverage has increased by 13.8 million individuals and private coverage has had a net increase of 2.7 million individuals.

Once again, the data confirm that Obamacare’s principle coverage effect has been to expand Medicaid.

The post New Data Show Obamacare Insures Less Than 20 Million, Most on Medicaid appeared first on The Daily Signal.

The Fight Isn’t Over: Where Pro-Life Legislation Stands in Congress

Friday, hundreds of thousands of Americans will take to the National Mall to participate in the annual March for Life and peacefully demonstrate for the rights of the unborn.

As men and women join together to show the power of the pro-life movement, let’s take a moment and go over the good, the bad, and the ugly of current pro-life legislation.

The Good

This week Congress took a step in the right direction by passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 7). This bill established a permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal taxpayer funding of abortion and health benefits plans that include coverage of abortions through Obamacare.

Under Obamacare, many Americans were being forced to pay an easily missed surcharge that covered abortions for others on the insurance exchanges. This essentially amounted to an abortion funding stream, and during a time when 61 percent of Americans believe taxpayer dollars should not go to abortion.

The Trump administration also took action this week with the executive order reinstating the Mexico City policy, which some are calling an international defunding of Planned Parenthood. The Daily Signal’s Fred Lucas explains:

[President Donald] Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, which specifies that federal funds for family planning go only to foreign nongovernmental organizations that agree not to perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning in other countries.

H.R. 7 and Trump’s executive action show positive legislative momentum to furthering the pro-life movement. But few fights in Washington are won without opposition.

The Bad

Last week, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the Patient Freedom Act (S.B. 191).

This bill would disastrously go further than simply using money from the insurance exchanges to fund insurance plans that include abortions. It would also allow taxpayer dollars to directly fund abortions.

Here’s a quick rundown of how it works.

Under current law, Obamacare gives money to recipients through a Roth Health Savings Account fund, or a flexible savings account. That money could be used for abortions under the banner of being a “qualified medical expense.”

The plan put forth by Cassidy and Collins would go even further by directly allowing taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. Chris Jacobs’ explains:

Not only would the Patient Freedom Act provide federal funds to insurance plans that cover abortion, it would allow individuals to fund their abortions directly with federal funds. The federal allotments would be directly provided (using a state-based formula developed by the Department of Health and Human Services) to eligible individuals using the new Roth Health Savings Account option.

A member of Cassidy’s staff says this is simply an oversight that will be corrected. But until it is corrected, Republicans must stand opposed to this bill.

The Ugly

The fight to fully end federal funding for abortion is far from over.

Last week’s Women’s March on Washington is one such example of the opposition being faced by the pro-life movement. This march was organized around the generic idea of protecting and respecting human rights—but it failed to recognize the human rights of the unborn.

Conservatives must continue to fight in the public sphere to end federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion provider, and after Obamacare is repealed, must ensure the patient-centered solution does not use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.

The rights of individuals to express their political beliefs has always been at the bedrock of America. Those rights have been on full display over the past seven days, and it is incumbent upon policymakers to remember that those rights apply equally to the unborn as well.

The post The Fight Isn’t Over: Where Pro-Life Legislation Stands in Congress appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Conservatives, GOP Committee Chairs Back Away From Bill Allowing States That Like Obamacare to Keep Obamacare

PHILADELPHIA–Republican leaders in Congress appear to be backing away from a plan supported by four GOP senators that would’ve kept Obamacare in place for states that like the law.

According to a senior Republican aide, GOP committee chairmen, as well as conservative lawmakers, are moving against the bill introduced earlier this week by Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine.

Congressional leaders and Republican lawmakers discussed the legislation Thursday during a session on health care at the GOP’s joint retreat in Philadelphia.

The bill, called the Patient Freedom Act, would allow states that “like Obamacare to keep Obamacare,” while also giving states that are unhappy with the law the freedom to implement a new health care system.

But the plan, which Cassidy hoped would attract Democratic support, hasn’t earned the backing of some of his colleagues in Congress.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that the bill’s design was flawed.

“If you’re going to let New York and California keep Obamacare, but you’re going to pay for it federally, essentially you’re asking states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia—all these states that are going to choose they don’t like Obamacare—you’re going to ask them to pay for New York and California’s Obamacare,” the Kentucky senator said.

Paul, who introduced his own replacement plan Wednesday, also said the bill wasn’t likely to unite Republicans.

“‘If you like Obamacare, you can keep Obamacare is not a ringing sort of rallying cry that Republicans across the country are going to rally to,” he said. “I would say the vast majority of Republicans who voted in the election thought they were voting for people to repeal Obamacare, not keep it.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan tells fellow Republicans at a joint retreat that Obamacare repeal won't happen until March or April. Ryan is pictured here at a Jan. 5 news conference. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters /Newscom)

House Speaker Paul Ryan tells fellow Republicans at a joint retreat that Obamacare repeal won’t happen until March or April. Ryan is pictured here at a Jan. 5 news conference. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
/Newscom)

Like Paul, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also pushed back on the Cassidy-Collins bill.

Jordan previously chaired the House Freedom Caucus, a group of approximately 40 conservatives, and warned that keeping the Affordable Care Act in place, regardless if it’s for just a few states, would break Republicans’ campaign promises to voters.

“We already know people don’t like Obamacare,” he told The Daily Signal. “This just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s the wrong way to go.”

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who currently chairs the House Freedom Caucus, said that while he doesn’t support the Cassidy-Collins bill, he appreciated their willingness to talk “about specifics.”

“It really is an Obamacare-type plan, and doesn’t really repeal it,” Meadows told reporters. “That being said, I made a personal commitment to go to them and thank them for talking about specifics. It’s time we start talking about specifics, negotiating back and forth, on what works and what doesn’t work for our constituency.”

Republicans gathered in Philadelphia for a three-day retreat to map out their strategy for the Trump presidency.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday morning repealing and replacing the health care law would be one of two top items on their agenda.

>>> A Look at 4 of the GOP’s Obamacare Replacement Plans

GOP leaders said their plan is to include parts of a replacement in the reconciliation bill, Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told reporters. Leaders also are in favor of including a repeal of Obamacare’s taxes in the bill, a senior Republican aide told The Daily Signal.

The latter issue split Republicans in the House and Senate, who disagreed over the timing of the taxes repeal.

Meadows told reporters that they had not yet come to a consensus on whether a repeal of the taxes should be included in the reconciliation bill.

Conservative lawmakers called for their colleagues to dismantle as much of Obamacare as possible, following through on the promises made to voters on the campaign trail.

“The onerous taxes, regulations—it’s those regulations that are driving up premiums and deductibles,” Jordan said. “We have to get rid of them.”

But some senators pushed to delay a repeal of the taxes for several months and address them in a future bill to reform the tax code. Waiting to roll back the taxes, those senators said, would keep in place revenue streams needed to fund a replacement.

With control over both chambers of Congress and the White House, the GOP now has the chance to repeal the health care law, action they’ve been talking about taking for the last six years.

Congress took the first step in the repeal process earlier this month, but Ryan told Republicans on Wednesday that repeal and replace likely wouldn’t happen until March or April.

Conservative lawmakers, meanwhile, want to see the health care law repealed “as soon as possible,” Jordan said.

“If you start with the premise that I do and most Americans do, which is that health care will be better and cost less once Obamacare is gone, then obviously it makes sense for it to be repealed as quickly as possible,” he said. “That’s the premise I start from. What that works out to be, I’m not sure yet.”

The post Conservatives, GOP Committee Chairs Back Away From Bill Allowing States That Like Obamacare to Keep Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Congressional Delay Threatens Obamacare Repeal

The effort to repeal Obamacare may be headed in the wrong direction.

That it could be so was unthinkable just a few short weeks ago when the GOP triumphantly returned to our nation’s capital with majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate and control of the presidency for the first time since the law was enacted back in 2010.

Since then, Republicans across the nation have consistently proclaimed their opposition to the law and pledged to repeal it the first chance they got.

But with lawmakers huddled in Philadelphia for a three-day retreat to strategize how best to approach the months ahead and the Jan. 27 deadline for a repeal bill to be written slipping by, how exactly the GOP plans to achieve its long-sought goal to reverse Obamacare remains murkier than ever.

This is leading some to doubt whether the GOP is still serious about dismantling the law. For example, Reuters is reporting that prominent portfolio managers on Wall Street are now betting against full repeal and expect instead that the fundamental structure of Obamacare will remain intact.

Given this, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans should reiterate their commitment to the full repeal of Obamacare. They should also signal their determination to reject Obamacare’s flawed framework and to replacing it with patient-centered and market-based reforms.

And they need to get to work by taking the first step in the process, which should be passing legislation to repeal Obamacare as soon as possible.

Time is running out.

Technically, the end-of-January deadline is not binding in any meaningful sense. Legislation produced after Jan. 27 is still eligible for expedited consideration in the Senate as long as it complies with the reconciliation instructions included in the fiscal year 2017 budget resolution.

Yet the fact that congressional Republicans are unable to meet this deadline suggests that they may be less committed to repealing Obamacare than previously expected.

Moreover, that the House and Senate do not currently plan to take up a repeal bill any time soon provides additional support for this claim. Indeed, lawmakers recently announced a new March deadline that could potentially slip further into April.

Such a delay creates unnecessary logistical problems for the GOP.

Assuming that a repeal bill is ready for floor consideration by the second week of March, at the earliest, leaves just three weeks when both the House and Senate are in session at the same time to repeal Obamacare and begin the process of replacing it before government funding expires at the end of April.

Three weeks may seem like plenty of time to pass a repeal bill. But that doesn’t leave a lot of time for Congress to take up other priorities during Trump’s first 100 days.

For example, work will continue in the Senate to consider and confirm the president’s Cabinet-level nominations, and its members will soon be engaged in an important debate over Trump’s Supreme Court nomination.

In addition, Congress has a limited window in which to disapprove of certain regulations that were finalized during the last few months of the previous administration using the expedited process established by the Congressional Review Act.

Once that window closes, any effort to overturn those regulations will be subject to a filibuster in the Senate.

The fiscal year 2018 budget resolution is also up for consideration during this period. Passing a budget remains an important priority for congressional Republicans to the extent that it provides an opportunity to highlight their commitment to fiscal restraint.

It also constitutes a necessary step in setting up a second reconciliation process in which the GOP hopes to pass legislation reforming the tax code.

More than simply competing with the repeal effort for scarce floor time, passage of the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution also poses an existential threat to the means by which the GOP intends to overturn Obamacare.

Put simply, passing a budget for fiscal year 2018 before the repeal effort is complete will preclude Congress from using the reconciliation process triggered by the fiscal year 2017 budget.

Delaying action on the budget into May or June creates even more problems for the legislative schedule and pushes back consideration of the annual spending bills, supplemental appropriations to fund the president’s border wall, and action on the debt limit—not to mention an infrastructure bill and regulatory reform.

As a consequence, it is difficult to see how Congress can accomplish all of this in three short weeks.

Any further delay also makes it increasingly likely that the repeal effort is ultimately tied directly to the replace debate. At that point, any changes to the existing system would then be considered in the legislative framework established by Obamacare.

There is already evidence that this is happening.

The latest replacement plan floated by some Republicans on Capitol Hill fails to even repeal Obamacare. Instead, it locks it in, giving the law the imprimatur of Republicans long sought by congressional Democrats.

While the proposal does provide states some limited flexibility to design alternative systems, it also preserves the Medicaid expansion. And it does all of this by continuing the same level of government spending and taxation mandated by Obamacare.

Given this trend and the logistical problems created by any further delay in action, the longer Congress waits to repeal Obamacare, the less likely it is that it will actually end up doing just that.

The post Congressional Delay Threatens Obamacare Repeal appeared first on The Daily Signal.

House Speaker Paul Ryan Slates Obamacare Repeal for Spring

PHILADELPHIA—House Speaker Paul Ryan told House and Senate Republicans that lawmakers likely won’t repeal and replace Obamacare until March or April.

Speaking in the first major session of GOP lawmakers’ joint retreat in the City of Brotherly Love, Ryan said Wednesday that the health care law wouldn’t be repealed and subsequently replaced until spring.

“What we heard today was Obamacare is front and center,” Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told reporters, referring to the first session of the retreat, which outlined President Donald Trump’s first 200 days in office, or the “200 Day Plan.”

“Repeal and replace,” Collins added. “The word was by the springtime.”

Trump apparently has come around to this timeframe, after earlier suggesting he wanted to see Obamacare repealed and replaced much sooner. Trump is scheduled to address the group of about 290 lawmakers Thursday.

Republicans are using a budget tool called reconciliation to repeal Obamacare, and lawmakers took the first step toward getting rid of the law using the fast-track procedure earlier this month.

GOP lawmakers originally had set a Jan. 27 deadline to craft the repeal bill, but Republicans admitted they would miss that deadline.

Since at least 2010, Republicans have campaigned on getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. Now that they have the chance—with control of the White House as well as both chambers of Congress—some Republicans consistently have called for its swift repeal.

One senior Republican aide told The Daily Signal that the health care law should be rolled back “as soon as possible” to “fulfill our promise to voters that enabled unified government.”

Republicans first plan to use budget reconciliation to repeal the health care law and implement parts of a replacement, Collins said.

The next step is to use administrative actions, spearheaded by Tom Price, Trump’s nominee as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to continue to dismantle Obamacare.

Last, they’ll implement additional parts of a replacement through the House and Senate’s normal procedures, called regular order.

That third and final step in Republicans’ repeal-and-replace process would require Democrats’ support, however, since 60 votes are needed to override a filibuster to block action in the Senate. Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-seat upper chamber.

Heading into the closed-doors joint retreat at Loews Philadelphia Hotel, House and Senate Republicans were expected to hash out the final details of their plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Though lawmakers in both chambers agree on how they’ll repeal Obamacare, through the budget reconciliation process, they haven’t come to a consensus on which parts of the law they’ll dismantle.

Conservatives want to repeal as much of Obamacare as possible using the budget reconciliation tool, which requires only a simple majority of 51 votes to advance in the Senate.

But centrist and liberal Republicans such as Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine want to keep Obamacare’s taxes in places.

Although the GOP lawmakers haven’t coalesced around a replacement for the law, they were scheduled to discuss proposals to do so at a session Thursday morning.

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