"Hanging In The Balance" - A Look Inside The War To Repeal Obamacare

A few weeks ago we noted that none other than John Boehner, the former Republican Speaker of the House, scoffed at the idea of repealing and replacing Obamacare as he essentially predicted that Republicans would become their own worst enemy (see "Boehner: Full Repeal And Replace Of Obamacare 'Is Not Going To Happen'"):

“[Congressional Republicans are] going to fix Obamacare – I shouldn’t call it repeal-and-replace, because it’s not going to happen,” he said.


“I started laughing,” he said. “Republicans never ever agree on health care.”


"So this is not all that hard to figure out.  Except this, in the 25 years I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, not one time agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like.  Not once."


"And all this happy talk that went on in November and December and January about repeal, repeal, repeal...if you pass repeal without replace, you'll never pass replace because they will never agree on what the bill should be.  The perfect always becomes the enemy of the good."

Now, it's looking increasingly like Boehner may have been right as the so-called "TrumpCare" attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare will face a number of challenges, starting this week, in its journey to Trump's desk.  The first challenge comes from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which is expected this week to release its score of the legislation.  The CBO is widely expected, even among Republicans, to estimate that millions of people would no longer have health insurance under the plan.  Per The Hill:

With that in mind, Republicans are already looking to discredit the office and downplay the importance of the score.


“If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this week.


Ryan, meanwhile, compared CBO scores to a “beauty contest.”


“Our goal is not to show a pretty piece of paper that says we’re mandating great things for Americans. Our goal is to get a vibrant health care system that’s patient-centered, that brings down costs, that increases choices, that has a marketplace so that we lower the costs and increase, and therefore increase the access to affordable care,” he said.

Paul Ryan


Then there are the Republican governors from states that took ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion who are also wary of the healthcare legislation.

“Phasing out Medicaid coverage without a viable alternative is counterproductive and unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug addicted, mentally ill, and working poor who now have access to a stable source of care,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said in a statement Wednesday.


The governors met with the White House and GOP leadership about ObamaCare and Medicaid during their annual conference earlier this month, but Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said this week the resulting plan “doesn’t include anything that the governors have talked about.”


“We’ve said all along, ‘work with the governors,’ that it should be a governor-led effort and for the Congress to rely on their governors,” Sandoval said.

And then there are the conservative elements of the splintered Republican party that would prefer to simply repeal Obamacare altogether, without a replacement plan, and start from ground zero.  While Paul Ryan has guaranteed that his bill can pass the House, assuming all Democrats vote no, it would only take 21 House GOP defections to kill the bill.  That said, Republican control of the Senate is much more narrow and several Senators, including Tom Cotton (Ark) and Rand Paul (KY), don't seem all that eager to support the current iteration of the bill.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said the House GOP should “start over” on its replacement plan.


“House health-care bill can’t pass Senate without major changes,” Cotton Tweeted Thursday.


“To my friends in House: pause, start over. Get it right, don’t get it fast.”


The legislation has been criticized by at least 11 senators, including some from Medicaid expansion states who don’t want to see the expansion rolled back.


Conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), meanwhile, are backing the Freedom Caucus’s push for repealing more of ObamaCare. Paul has introduced his own legislation to repeal ObamaCare.

All political rhetoric or is Trump about to get bogged down in the swamp?  He seems optimistic...


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