U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced a resolution Tuesday just hours after the new Republican-controlled Congress convened that will serve as the catalyst for dismantling the vast majority of President Obama’s signature healthcare law.
“Today, we take the first steps to repair the nation’s broken health care system, removing Washington from the equation and putting control back where it belongs: with patients, their families, and their doctors,” Enzi said in a press release.
Enzi and other Congressional leaders are relying on a legislative provision known as “budget reconciliation” to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a Republican alternative because it avoids a Senate Democrat filibuster and requires only a 51-vote majority for passage, not the 60-vote majority. Budget bills aren’t subject to filibuster, so lawmakers have the power to roll back parts of the law that have budget and tax implications.
Republicans have a 52-to-48 member majority in the Senate and a 241-to-194 majority in the House, which requires only a simple majority for passage.
Budget reconciliation allows Republicans to essentially gut the Affordable Care Act, removing all subsidies designed to help low- and middle-income people buy health insurance and cut taxes on medical devices, insurance companies and wealthy individuals who foot the bill for those subsidies.
President-Elect Trump won the nomination in part on his vow to repeal Obamacare on “day one” and replace it with “something terrific.” However, the dismantling process will be decidedly longer and more complicated.
Republicans say they don’t want the 20 million newly-insured people under the Affordable Care Act to lose their coverage. So they will phase out the bill over time and come up with a plan they say will make affordable health insurance available to everyone, without the much-loathed mandate to buy insurance even if you don’t want it.
However, many analysts are skeptical this “repeal and delay” strategy will work as planned.
“The most likely end result of ‘repeal and delay’ would be less secure insurance for many Americans, procrastination by political leaders who will delay taking any proactive steps as long as possible, and ultimately no discernible movement toward a real marketplace for either insurance or medical services,” said Joe Antos and James Capretta of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Antos and Capretta say a partial repeal with no effective replacement would lead many insurers to withdraw from the Obamacare market altogether, leaving those who get insurance there today with no coverage at all.
With Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, Republicans are now under pressure to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, after years of criticizing the plan with no viable replacement. Additionally, some of the most conservative House Republicans are already raising concerns about their leaders wanting multiple years to roll out a replacement, fearing backlash from voters at home.
Repealing Obamacare without an alternative for the roughly 20 million Americans now enrolled could indeed be a political disaster, particularly before the 2018 midterms.
Source: “FOX News”