Ted Cruz’s Take on Obamacare, in 4 Quotes

In a prime-time debate on CNN this week, Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, discussed “The Future of Obamacare” in America. Cruz, a leading critic of the law, used the moment to outline the law’s failures.

Here are four things Cruz said about Obamacare:

1) “Now, nobody thinks we’re done once Obamacare is repealed. Once Obamacare is repealed, we need commonsense reform that increases competition, that empowers patients, that gives you more choices, that puts you in charge of your health care, rather than empowering government bureaucrats to get in the way. And these have been commonsense ideas.”

2) “Indeed, I don’t know if the cameras can see this, but in 70 percent of the counties in America, on Obamacare exchanges, you have a choice of one or two health insurance plans, that’s it … It’s interesting. You look at this map, this also very much looks like the electoral map that elected Donald Trump. It’s really quite striking that the communities that have been hammered by this disaster of a law said enough already.”

During one of the more powerful moments in the debate, Cruz held up a Heritage Foundation chart showing viewers how many counties in the U.S. have access to only one or two insurers under Obamacare. Additionally, only 11 percent of counties have access to four or more insurance providers.

3) “Whenever you put government in charge of health care, what it means is they ration. They decide you get care and you don’t. I don’t think the government has any business telling you you’re not entitled to receive health care.”

The U.S. should not envy other health care systems, especially Canada and the United Kingdom, Cruz said. He referred to a governor from Canada who came to the U.S. specifically to have heart surgery.

4) “That’s why I think the answer is not more of Obamacare, more government control, more of what got us in this mess. Rather, the answer is empower you. Give you choices. Lower prices. Lower premiums. Lower deductibles. Empower you and put you back in charge of your health care.”

Obamacare is burdening Americans. The average deductible for a family on a bronze plan is $12,393, according to a HealthPocket analysis. According to an eHealth report, the average nationwide premium increase for individuals is 99 percent and 140 percent for families from 2013-2017.

The post Ted Cruz’s Take on Obamacare, in 4 Quotes appeared first on The Daily Signal.

How Tom Price Can Begin to Unravel Obamacare From Inside the Agency That Implemented It

Tom Price took the helm of the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, capping a lengthy confirmation process that ended in the wee hours of the morning.

Now, as the health and human services chief, Price can begin fulfilling a years-long goal of unwinding Obamacare. But instead of dismantling the health care law from the halls of Congress, he’ll be acting from inside the agency that oversaw its implementation.

The Senate confirmed Price 52-47, and the former House Budget Committee chairman is taking over the Department of Health and Human Services as the White House and Congress prepare to follow through on their campaign promises to repeal Obamacare.

An orthopedic surgeon who served more than a decade in the House, Price has spent the last seven years in Congress opposing the Affordable Care Act. The new HHS secretary introduced his own health care plan in 2009—he’s reintroduced that same proposal, the Empowering Patients First Act, in every Congress since then.

The Georgia Republican will take the helm of the agency at a crucial time. GOP lawmakers are debating how to dismantle the law, with a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act expected to take place by March or April.

Unwinding Obamacare

But even as congressional Republicans finalize their course for unwinding the law, Price can now use his executive power to begin chipping away at Obamacare’s framework.

The Affordable Care Act gave the federal government the power to write and implement many of the law’s regulations through the federal rule-making process—like the exemptions from the individual mandate that are available to consumers who encounter hardships and the mandate that requires insurance plans to cover contraception and abortifacients.

And already, President Donald Trump is using that authority to make changes to the law.

“You live by the administrative state, you die by the administrative state,” Ed Haislmaier, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation who worked on health policy for Trump’s transition team, told The Daily Signal.

During a confirmation hearing in January, Price told a Senate committee he believed insurers needed some assistance from the Trump administration before 2018.

“What they need to hear from all of us, I believe, is a level of support and stability in the market,” the Georgia Republican said.

And as the new Health and Human Services secretary, Price can begin providing them with that relief by tightening the monitoring of consumers purchasing coverage on Obamacare’s exchanges—changes insurers asked the Obama administration to make long before Trump took office.

That includes making changes to special enrollment periods, or the time outside the standard enrollment window a person can purchase health insurance, and verifying the eligibility of consumers purchasing coverage during open enrollment and special enrollment periods.

The Obama administration created several special enrollment periods, which a consumer can qualify for if they lose their health insurance, get married, or move to a new state.

But insurance companies warned last year that Americans were taking advantage of the special enrollment periods and purchasing coverage only when it was needed.

That led to an increase in costs for plans and higher costs for consumers, insurers said.

“The Trump administration you would expect to go in and say we’re going to prioritize minimizing costs and disruption, and we’re not going to let people enroll at the drop of a hat,” Haislmaier said.

As the new secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price can begin making changes to the Affordable Care Act, even before Congress acts. (Photo: Pat Benic/UPI/Newscom)

As the new secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price can begin making changes to the Affordable Care Act, even before Congress acts. (Photo: Pat Benic/UPI/Newscom)

The new Health and Human Services secretary can also eliminate federal regulations that already exist at the state level, such as oversight over proposed rate increases and network adequacy.

Under the current system, insurance companies looking to raise their rates must receive approval from state regulators and the federal government, which review the plans insurers want to sell for the upcoming benefit year.

“If you’re approaching it from the Obamacare mindset, then you make insurers go through all of that at the federal level after they’ve done it at the state level,” Haislmaier said. “If you come in at the Trump administration, they’re saying, ‘We’re not interested in nationalizing insurance. If it’s OK with the state, it’s OK with us.’”

According to draft documents obtained by Politico, the Trump administration is also weighing whether to make changes to a provision of Obamacare that dictates how much more insurers can charge older Americans than younger Americans.

The provision prohibits insurance companies from charging its older customers more than three times what it charges younger customers. According to the documents, the Trump administration proposes changing the ratio to 3.49-to-1.

Health policy experts, though, worry that such a change may not be legal, since the Affordable Care Act specifically set the ratio for insurance companies. Changing the ratio from three to 3.49 would require action from Congress.

Still, Trump administration officials believe that since 3.49 “rounds down” to three, the changes can be made without a change in statute, according to the Huffington Post.

Eliminating Mandates

In addition to enhancing the monitoring of consumers who sign up for coverage, Price can take aim at one of Obamacare’s most controversial provisions: the contraception mandate, which requires plans to cover contraceptives and abortifacients without cost-sharing.

Price, an opponent of abortion, has criticized the contraception mandate in the past for infringing on religious liberty.

As the leader of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Georgia Republican could have his agency rewrite the regulations tied to the mandate or choose not to enforce it.

Price could also revise the list of services insurers are required to cover—called the Essential Health Benefits requirement—to amend or exclude preventive health.

The White House set the stage for the new Health and Human Services secretary to begin making changes to Obamacare just hours after the president took the oath of office.

On Inauguration Day, Trump signed an executive order to “ease the burden of Obamacare as we transition to repeal and replace.”

The order was light on specifics, but health policy experts said it gave the executive branch the authority to begin addressing the thousands of regulations tied to Obamacare.

And some wondered if the individual mandate on the chopping block.

Price could decide not to enforce the individual mandate, the part of Obamacare that requires consumers purchase insurance or face a fine, or extend hardship exemptions to all enrollees.

But Haislmaier said that for Price, the decision regarding enforcement of the mandate would need to involve the White House, since such a move would require coordination between multiple agencies.

For the executive branch, deciding whether to enforce the individual mandate also is a game of timing.

Republicans are considering passing a repeal bill that gets rid of the individual mandate, among other major provisions of Obamacare.

Turning to Congress

Haislmaier questioned whether it would be necessary for the Trump administration to take action on a part of the law Congress may get rid of on its own.

“If the mandate is going to be repealed in repeal legislation, is it worth the bother of the administration doing it?” Haislmaier asked.

Like with the executive order on Obamacare, the White House began the process for making changes to the health care law through the rule-making procedure before the Senate confirmed Price.

Last week, the Trump administration submitted a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget. The details haven’t yet been released to the public, but the rule aims to stabilize the Obamacare markets, likely through the changes reference above.

Once the details are released, it’s Price who will oversee the efforts to provide relief for insurers.

The post How Tom Price Can Begin to Unravel Obamacare From Inside the Agency That Implemented It appeared first on The Daily Signal.

How Tom Price Can Begin to Unravel Obamacare From Inside the Agency That Implemented It

Tom Price took the helm of the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, capping a lengthy confirmation process that ended in the wee hours of the morning.

Now, as the health and human services chief, Price can begin fulfilling a years-long goal of unwinding Obamacare. But instead of dismantling the health care law from the halls of Congress, he’ll be acting from inside the agency that oversaw its implementation.

The Senate confirmed Price 52-47, and the former House Budget Committee chairman is taking over the Department of Health and Human Services as the White House and Congress prepare to follow through on their campaign promises to repeal Obamacare.

An orthopedic surgeon who served more than a decade in the House, Price has spent the last seven years in Congress opposing the Affordable Care Act. The new HHS secretary introduced his own health care plan in 2009—he’s reintroduced that same proposal, the Empowering Patients First Act, in every Congress since then.

The Georgia Republican will take the helm of the agency at a crucial time. GOP lawmakers are debating how to dismantle the law, with a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act expected to take place by March or April.

Unwinding Obamacare

But even as congressional Republicans finalize their course for unwinding the law, Price can now use his executive power to begin chipping away at Obamacare’s framework.

The Affordable Care Act gave the federal government the power to write and implement many of the law’s regulations through the federal rule-making process—like the exemptions from the individual mandate that are available to consumers who encounter hardships and the mandate that requires insurance plans to cover contraception and abortifacients.

And already, President Donald Trump is using that authority to make changes to the law.

“You live by the administrative state, you die by the administrative state,” Ed Haislmaier, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation who worked on health policy for Trump’s transition team, told The Daily Signal.

During a confirmation hearing in January, Price told a Senate committee he believed insurers needed some assistance from the Trump administration before 2018.

“What they need to hear from all of us, I believe, is a level of support and stability in the market,” the Georgia Republican said.

And as the new Health and Human Services secretary, Price can begin providing them with that relief by tightening the monitoring of consumers purchasing coverage on Obamacare’s exchanges—changes insurers asked the Obama administration to make long before Trump took office.

That includes making changes to special enrollment periods, or the time outside the standard enrollment window a person can purchase health insurance, and verifying the eligibility of consumers purchasing coverage during open enrollment and special enrollment periods.

The Obama administration created several special enrollment periods, which a consumer can qualify for if they lose their health insurance, get married, or move to a new state.

But insurance companies warned last year that Americans were taking advantage of the special enrollment periods and purchasing coverage only when it was needed.

That led to an increase in costs for plans and higher costs for consumers, insurers said.

“The Trump administration you would expect to go in and say we’re going to prioritize minimizing costs and disruption, and we’re not going to let people enroll at the drop of a hat,” Haislmaier said.

As the new secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price can begin making changes to the Affordable Care Act, even before Congress acts. (Photo: Pat Benic/UPI/Newscom)

As the new secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price can begin making changes to the Affordable Care Act, even before Congress acts. (Photo: Pat Benic/UPI/Newscom)

The new Health and Human Services secretary can also eliminate federal regulations that already exist at the state level, such as oversight over proposed rate increases and network adequacy.

Under the current system, insurance companies looking to raise their rates must receive approval from state regulators and the federal government, which review the plans insurers want to sell for the upcoming benefit year.

“If you’re approaching it from the Obamacare mindset, then you make insurers go through all of that at the federal level after they’ve done it at the state level,” Haislmaier said. “If you come in at the Trump administration, they’re saying, ‘We’re not interested in nationalizing insurance. If it’s OK with the state, it’s OK with us.’”

According to draft documents obtained by Politico, the Trump administration is also weighing whether to make changes to a provision of Obamacare that dictates how much more insurers can charge older Americans than younger Americans.

The provision prohibits insurance companies from charging its older customers more than three times what it charges younger customers. According to the documents, the Trump administration proposes changing the ratio to 3.49-to-1.

Health policy experts, though, worry that such a change may not be legal, since the Affordable Care Act specifically set the ratio for insurance companies. Changing the ratio from three to 3.49 would require action from Congress.

Still, Trump administration officials believe that since 3.49 “rounds down” to three, the changes can be made without a change in statute, according to the Huffington Post.

Eliminating Mandates

In addition to enhancing the monitoring of consumers who sign up for coverage, Price can take aim at one of Obamacare’s most controversial provisions: the contraception mandate, which requires plans to cover contraceptives and abortifacients without cost-sharing.

Price, an opponent of abortion, has criticized the contraception mandate in the past for infringing on religious liberty.

As the leader of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Georgia Republican could have his agency rewrite the regulations tied to the mandate or choose not to enforce it.

Price could also revise the list of services insurers are required to cover—called the Essential Health Benefits requirement—to amend or exclude preventive health.

The White House set the stage for the new Health and Human Services secretary to begin making changes to Obamacare just hours after the president took the oath of office.

On Inauguration Day, Trump signed an executive order to “ease the burden of Obamacare as we transition to repeal and replace.”

The order was light on specifics, but health policy experts said it gave the executive branch the authority to begin addressing the thousands of regulations tied to Obamacare.

And some wondered if the individual mandate on the chopping block.

Price could decide not to enforce the individual mandate, the part of Obamacare that requires consumers purchase insurance or face a fine, or extend hardship exemptions to all enrollees.

But Haislmaier said that for Price, the decision regarding enforcement of the mandate would need to involve the White House, since such a move would require coordination between multiple agencies.

For the executive branch, deciding whether to enforce the individual mandate also is a game of timing.

Republicans are considering passing a repeal bill that gets rid of the individual mandate, among other major provisions of Obamacare.

Turning to Congress

Haislmaier questioned whether it would be necessary for the Trump administration to take action on a part of the law Congress may get rid of on its own.

“If the mandate is going to be repealed in repeal legislation, is it worth the bother of the administration doing it?” Haislmaier asked.

Like with the executive order on Obamacare, the White House began the process for making changes to the health care law through the rule-making procedure before the Senate confirmed Price.

Last week, the Trump administration submitted a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget. The details haven’t yet been released to the public, but the rule aims to stabilize the Obamacare markets, likely through the changes reference above.

Once the details are released, it’s Price who will oversee the efforts to provide relief for insurers.

The post How Tom Price Can Begin to Unravel Obamacare From Inside the Agency That Implemented It appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Tom Price Clears Senate, Ready to Dismantle Obamacare as HHS Chief

The Senate voted 52-47 early Friday morning to confirm Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a surgeon who has fought to repeal Obamacare, as the 23rd secretary of health and human services.

Not a single Democrat voted for Price, an outspoken critic of Obamacare who is expected to oversee the dismantling and replacement of the health care law as a top priority at the Department of Health and Human Services. The vote along party lines began just before 2 a.m.

Robert Moffit, a senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, hailed Price’s successful appointment by President Donald Trump.

“Dr. Tom Price’s confirmation as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services will benefit ordinary Americans enormously,” Moffit told The Daily Signal in an email, adding:

In recent years, Dr. Price emerged as one of the most knowledgeable and respected members of Congress because of his grasp of the complex and difficult issues of federal health policy. But his elevation as HHS secretary is a direct benefit to all Americans because he is a doctor, a person who has dedicated his professional life to helping others.

Before assuming office in 2005 as the House member representing Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, Price worked as an orthopedic surgeon for nearly 20 years and was a professor at Emory University School of Medicine.

Two weeks before the Nov. 8 election, not knowing Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton for the presidency, Price tweeted:

When Trump picked Price to lead HHS later in November, he mentioned Price’s readiness to “repeal and replace” Obamacare once confirmed.

“Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on health care policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity,” Trump, then president-elect, said in the announcement. “He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible health care to every American.”

In 2009, Price introduced the Empowering Patients First Act, making him one of the first members of Congress to create a plan to replace Obamacare.

>>> What You Need to Know About Tom Price, Trump’s Pick for HHS Secretary

Not a single Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, when it passed in 2010. Price’s plan addresses two main concerns of the current health care debate—allowing Americans to take their health coverage from job to job, and covering preexisting conditions.

“If you change your job or lose your job, you ought to be able to take your health care coverage with you, just like a 401(k) plan,” Price wrote in a piece for The Hill in 2013.

The future HHS secretary also said the replacement plan should cover preexisting conditions:

[T]o make sure no one is priced out of the health insurance market because of a preexisting illness or injury, the Empowering Patients First Act provides for the creation of robust pooling plans that would ensure that any one person’s health status does not increase his or her costs or the costs of others in the same pool.

Price, 62, served as chairman of the House Budget Committee, and also was a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

The seventh of Trump’s 15 Cabinet members to be confirmed, Price faced sharp questions and obstruction from Senate Democrats despite his familiarity with issues related to HHS from his time in Congress. Democrats demanded to know how he would make sure millions of Americans don’t lose health coverage, and sought to make an issue of a broker’s purchase of health care stocks for Price.

“Just gaining coverage for individuals is an admirable goal, but it ought not be the only goal,” Price told the Finance Committee during a Jan. 24 hearing. “We must have a goal in health care, especially to keep the patient at the center and realize what kind of care and coverage we’re providing for people on the ground. For people with real lives.”

Rachel Bovard, a former Senate aide and director of policy services at Heritage, noted that committee Democrats boycotted a vote on Price two times.

The second time, Finance Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah,  suspended the rules by unanimous consent and the committee moved the Price nomination, Bovard said. No Democrat was there to object when the panel sidestepped a rule requiring one Democrat to be present to conduct official business.

Price made himself available to senators during the process, Bovard said.

“Price was very generous with his time in front of the Senate,” she said in an email to The Daily Signal, noting that he was required to appear during a hearing before one committee, Finance, but also spent hours before another one–Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions–“as a courtesy, to allow senators to ask him more questions.”

Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, another public policy research organization, told The Daily Signal in an email that Price is the right one for the job:

Dr. Price will be an exceptional leader for HHS at this crucially important time. With decades of experience as a physician and proven leadership in public policy, he is uniquely qualified to help our nation’s health sector heal from the wounds of Obamacare. Americans can feel confident that they are in very good and competent hands with an HHS secretary who is dedicated to putting the interests of patients first.

The post Tom Price Clears Senate, Ready to Dismantle Obamacare as HHS Chief appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Why Delaying Obamacare Repeal Is Hurting the American People

When President Donald Trump took office, repeal of Obamacare seemed like a guarantee—and then the timeline started slipping.

All the elements are in place: A Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican president, all elected after promising to repeal Obamacare. But once the celebration and ceremonies died away, Congress started to do what it does best. Nothing.

“Nothing” may be a bit strong given the historic levels of obstruction from Democrats in the Senate, but House Republicans have no such excuse. In fact, they even have a blueprint.

Last year, the House and Senate passed an Obamacare repeal using the budget reconciliation process. That measure was ultimately vetoed by then-President Barack Obama, but that same legislation can be reintroduced and sent to Trump desk to be signed into law.

There is no reason to delay. The slipping of the Obamacare repeal timeline is creating cascading problems for the American people.

Delaying Repeal Prolongs the Current Health Care Crisis

No one needs reminding that Obamacare takes away choice, erodes the value of health care and puts additional burden on the pockets of the American taxpayer. The unsustainable nature of Obamacare is creating massive uncertainty and causing insurers to leave the marketplace, causing individual premiums to increase.

Additionally, once repeal is signed into law and real health care reforms begin moving forward, private insurers will need time to adjust to the new market. Continuing to delay repeal shortens the time insurers will be able to adjust and provide the best solution for the insured.

Most importantly, we don’t want Americans living under the current failing health care system any longer.

Obamacare is bad, and only getting worse. Average premiums are going up by 25 percent this year, deductibles are blowing past $10,000 for a family, and 70 percent of U.S. counties have no insurer choice, or a choice between only two insurers.

What good is a health care plan that you can’t choose and can’t afford to use? Congress must repeal it as soon as possible to put better health care choices back in the hands of the American people.

Delaying Repeal Hurts Public Support for Congress

Nearly every single congressional Republican campaigned on the promise to repeal Obamacare. The unfortunate consequence of the delay is that the American people are losing faith in the people whose job it is to represent them.

Recent Heritage Foundation research shows 72 percent of Americans will take the promises of Congress less seriously if they wait to fulfill their promise to repeal Obamacare. And 70 percent of Americans believe the longer Congress waits to fulfill their promises to repeal Obamacare, the less likely they will be successful.

There is no doubt that lawmakers will be held accountable to their promises.

Delaying Repeal Keeps the Focus Off Other Priorities

The surest way to repeal Obamacare is through the reconciliation process. However, that option has an expiration date. The reconciliation package is part of the budget process for Fiscal Year 2017 and it has to be completed before the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process begins.

In addition to creating a time crunch, the fight over when and how to repeal Obamacare is delaying action on other critical fights.

There is no doubt that Obamacare repeal is and should be the first priority, but Trump and congressional Republicans have made major promises to Americans that must also be considered.

Tax reform. Border security. Regulatory reform. Those priorities cannot move forward until Obamacare repeal is finalized.

What’s Next?

Republicans campaigned on repealing Obamacare in 2010, 2014, and 2016. Now it is time to step up to the plate and use the budget reconciliation process to deliver on those promises.

Congress needs to send a full repeal of Obamacare to the president for his signature. Americans cannot afford any further delays.

The post Why Delaying Obamacare Repeal Is Hurting the American People appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Why Delaying Obamacare Repeal Is Hurting the American People

When President Donald Trump took office, repeal of Obamacare seemed like a guarantee—and then the timeline started slipping.

All the elements are in place: A Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican president, all elected after promising to repeal Obamacare. But once the celebration and ceremonies died away, Congress started to do what it does best. Nothing.

“Nothing” may be a bit strong given the historic levels of obstruction from Democrats in the Senate, but House Republicans have no such excuse. In fact, they even have a blueprint.

Last year, the House and Senate passed an Obamacare repeal using the budget reconciliation process. That measure was ultimately vetoed by then-President Barack Obama, but that same legislation can be reintroduced and sent to Trump desk to be signed into law.

There is no reason to delay. The slipping of the Obamacare repeal timeline is creating cascading problems for the American people.

Delaying Repeal Prolongs the Current Health Care Crisis

No one needs reminding that Obamacare takes away choice, erodes the value of health care and puts additional burden on the pockets of the American taxpayer. The unsustainable nature of Obamacare is creating massive uncertainty and causing insurers to leave the marketplace, causing individual premiums to increase.

Additionally, once repeal is signed into law and real health care reforms begin moving forward, private insurers will need time to adjust to the new market. Continuing to delay repeal shortens the time insurers will be able to adjust and provide the best solution for the insured.

Most importantly, we don’t want Americans living under the current failing health care system any longer.

Obamacare is bad, and only getting worse. Average premiums are going up by 25 percent this year, deductibles are blowing past $10,000 for a family, and 70 percent of U.S. counties have no insurer choice, or a choice between only two insurers.

What good is a health care plan that you can’t choose and can’t afford to use? Congress must repeal it as soon as possible to put better health care choices back in the hands of the American people.

Delaying Repeal Hurts Public Support for Congress

Nearly every single congressional Republican campaigned on the promise to repeal Obamacare. The unfortunate consequence of the delay is that the American people are losing faith in the people whose job it is to represent them.

Recent Heritage Foundation research shows 72 percent of Americans will take the promises of Congress less seriously if they wait to fulfill their promise to repeal Obamacare. And 70 percent of Americans believe the longer Congress waits to fulfill their promises to repeal Obamacare, the less likely they will be successful.

There is no doubt that lawmakers will be held accountable to their promises.

Delaying Repeal Keeps the Focus Off Other Priorities

The surest way to repeal Obamacare is through the reconciliation process. However, that option has an expiration date. The reconciliation package is part of the budget process for Fiscal Year 2017 and it has to be completed before the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process begins.

In addition to creating a time crunch, the fight over when and how to repeal Obamacare is delaying action on other critical fights.

There is no doubt that Obamacare repeal is and should be the first priority, but Trump and congressional Republicans have made major promises to Americans that must also be considered.

Tax reform. Border security. Regulatory reform. Those priorities cannot move forward until Obamacare repeal is finalized.

What’s Next?

Republicans campaigned on repealing Obamacare in 2010, 2014, and 2016. Now it is time to step up to the plate and use the budget reconciliation process to deliver on those promises.

Congress needs to send a full repeal of Obamacare to the president for his signature. Americans cannot afford any further delays.

The post Why Delaying Obamacare Repeal Is Hurting the American People appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Why This Group of Nuns Is Defending Neil Gorsuch

After President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, Democrats promised a fight, calling the federal appeals judge an extremist and a threat to women’s health care.

“I have deep, serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “An extreme ideologue on the court will threaten privacy rights including women’s health care, worker and consumer protections, and public health and safety.”

Some of that criticism dates back to a legal brief Gorsuch filed in 2015 on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who care for the sick and elderly. After being forced to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to employees under an Obamacare provision, the nuns sued, and Gorsuch came to their defense.

The Daily Signal caught up with the Little Sisters to examine how Gorsuch was involved in their case and hear why the nuns say the Supreme Court nominee has been misrepresented.

The post Why This Group of Nuns Is Defending Neil Gorsuch appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Why This Group of Nuns Is Defending Neil Gorsuch

After President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, Democrats promised a fight, calling the federal appeals judge an extremist and a threat to women’s health care.

“I have deep, serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “An extreme ideologue on the court will threaten privacy rights including women’s health care, worker and consumer protections, and public health and safety.”

Some of that criticism dates back to a legal brief Gorsuch filed in 2015 on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who care for the sick and elderly. After being forced to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to employees under an Obamacare provision, the nuns sued, and Gorsuch came to their defense.

The Daily Signal caught up with the Little Sisters to examine how Gorsuch was involved in their case and hear why the nuns say the Supreme Court nominee has been misrepresented.

The post Why This Group of Nuns Is Defending Neil Gorsuch appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Conservatives Push to Separate Obamacare’s Repeal From Replacement

A trio of conservatives said they want to see Congress move faster with their efforts to repeal Obamacare and are worried that adding the law’s replacement to the repeal bill could drag down their dismantling of the health care law.

During a breakfast with reporters held Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, strongly spoke out against talks to include parts of Obamacare’s replacement in a bill unwinding the health care law.

“That’s a horrible idea,” Lee said of adding replacement measures to a repeal bill. “We need to repeal it first before deciding what comes next. There’s a lot of agreement among Republicans in Congress with regard to repeal. We were able to get that passed. But there is a lot less agreement on what comes next.”

The Utah Republican finds himself at odds with Republican leaders, who want to simultaneously replace parts of Obamacare law as they undo it.

According to CNN, top Republicans are beginning to work on a new repeal plan called “Reconciliation Plus.”

The outlet reported Wednesday that top GOP lawmakers are working on legislation repealing Obamacare and enacting replacement measures—expansion of health savings accounts, or medical savings accounts, reforms to Medicaid, tax credits, and creation of high-risk pools, for example.

Lee, though, said including parts of the health care law’s replacement could complicate repeal efforts and possibly even sink the bill.

“That’s going to be a problem, I’m telling you,” the Utah senator said. “That would imperil the repeal effort. Lots and lots of people would have concerns with that.”

The Utah Republican aired his concerns during an hour-long discussion with reporters, where Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina joined him.

Members are expected to vote on the bill dismantling Obamacare in either March or April, according to a timeline House Speaker Paul Ryan mapped out last month.

The bill will likely include a two-year phase out of the Affordable Care Act designed to give consumers time to transition to a new health insurance market.

Lee, Jordan, and Meadows said the spring would serve as the deadline for dismantling the law, but they want to see their colleagues move faster.

“Are we happy at the rate? No,” Jordan, former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said.

Meadows, the group’s new chair, said moving quickly on repeal would help provide consumers with some solace.

“It is incredibly important for us to move quickly in order to be able to alleviate some of the fears,” he said.

The comments from the trio of conservatives on Obamacare’s repeal and replacement follow those made by President Donald Trump on Sunday.

In an interview with Fox News, the president said replacement may not come until 2018.

>>> White House Says Trump Won’t Rush Obamacare Replacement

And Lee said Republicans should move on repeal well before next year, even if it means moving forward without a replacement.

“Repeal needs to get done within the next few months so that we can move forward,” he said.

Lee, Jordan, and Meadows have urged Republican leaders to use a 2015 bill repealing Obamacare as, at a minimum, the starting point for the legislation they’ll vote on in the next few weeks.

That bill repealed the individual and employer mandates, Cadillac and medical device taxes, and Medicaid expansion. It also stripped Planned Parenthood of its federal funding.

The legislation passed both chambers in early 2016, but President Barack Obama vetoed it.

The conservative lawmakers want to put that same legislation on Trump’s desk and get rid of Obamacare’s insurance mandates and regulations. But some of their Republican Senate colleagues disagree with which parts of the health care law to get rid of.

Despite their disagreements, GOP lawmakers took the initial steps to repealing Obamacare last month after passing a budget resolution. The document instructed relevant House and Senate committees to begin writing the repeal legislation.

Republicans are using a budget tool called reconciliation to unwind the health care law, but reconciliation can only be used for legislation that changes taxes, spending, or the deficit.

The budget tool fast-tracks legislation in the Senate, and a reconciliation bill can pass the upper chamber with 51 votes, a simple majority.

The GOP has a slim margin in the Senate for the repeal bill to pass—Republicans hold 52 seats in the upper chamber. Three votes against the measure sinks the bill.

Lee said adding replacement measures to the repeal bill makes it difficult for Republicans to accomplish their long-held goal of repealing Obamacare.

“If we load down the repeal discussion with what comes next, it’s going to make it a lot harder to get either one of them done,” the Utah Republican said. “You don’t ever get to what comes next if you don’t first get to repeal. Repeal becomes a lot more difficult if you load it down with all the heavy details involving what comes next when we don’t have a consensus.”

The post Conservatives Push to Separate Obamacare’s Repeal From Replacement appeared first on The Daily Signal.

White House Says Trump Won’t Rush Obamacare Replacement

President Donald Trump will use his business skills to negotiate lower prices and foster more competition in the health care market—but he doesn’t want to rush things, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.

“The president being able to approach this in the businesslike manner that he’s done so successfully in the past,” @PressSec says.

Spicer declined to give a specific timeline for seeing Congress repeal and replace the law, saying that Democrats rushed the passing of Obamacare and Republicans should not rush the replace.

“I think we can have this done legislatively sooner rather than later. But I think the implementation is going to be a little bit longer. It was a big, big bill that the Democrats had,” Spicer told reporters during a press briefing Monday. “As you recall, they told us they could read it after they passed it. We are now going through this to make sure we can do this in a very responsible way.”

The Daily Signal asked if the president agreed with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that the Obamacare law cannot be tinkered with or repaired but must be scrapped for something fundamentally different.

“What we’re focused on is the end solution,” Spicer told The Daily Signal. “We’ve been very clear over and over again that the president is going to repeal and replace [Obamacare], and that what Americans will get at the end of this is a health care solution, as I’ve said before over and over again, is going to give them a lower cost solution with more options.”

Spicer said that Trump’s vision is what was “promised in the first place,” but not delivered by Obamacare.

“The president being able to approach this in the businesslike manner that he’s done so successfully in the past is going to ensure that he negotiates prices and that we look at those businesslike practices, force competition among and other things that will help lower costs,” Spicer continued.

Ryan has previously said Congress can repeal and replace Obamacare in March or April. However, during an interview on Fox News with Bill O’Reilly aired before the Super Bowl, Trump said, “I would like to say, by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year.”

And Ryan on Monday talked about repealing the law this year.

Other reporters Monday pressed Spicer on the timeline for Congress repealing and replacing the law.

Spicer said the president and Republican congressional leaders are on the same page. But he stressed it would be a mistake to rush a repeal bill, as Democrats did in passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

“It’s a mammoth bill what they passed,” Spicer said. “We’ve got to make sure we do this right. We don’t want to end up with the same results the Democrats did. They rushed it through, no one was able to read the bill, premiums have skyrocketed, access and options have gone down. We need to make sure we understand we don’t do this in a way that ends up with the same result.”

The post White House Says Trump Won’t Rush Obamacare Replacement appeared first on The Daily Signal.