The chairmen of two of the three committees dealing with the repeal and replace of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, at the Capitol told reporters Tuesday that Republicans should not waste their chance to salvage President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform law.
“The American Health Care Act transfers power back to the American people,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R.-Texas), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “We restore state control of healthcare, so it can be designed for the families and communities in each state. We restore the free-market, so Americans have a choice tailored to what they need, what their families need.”
Brady was joined by Rep. Greg Walden (R.-Ore.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. In the House, the restructuring of Obamacare is going through three committees, including the Budget Committee, led by Rep. Diane Black (R.-Tenn.). The bills are on the budget reconciliation track. The reconciliation track restricts the bill to budgeting matters, but also carries a privileged status in the Senate, so that there is no 60-vote requirement to end debate. In the Senate, Republicans hold a 52-to-48 majority.
Brady said the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the federal tax code, is dismantling Obamacare taxes and mandates that have hurt jobs and driven up health care costs.
The bill also features a more robust treatment of the Health Savings Accounts and monthly tax credits available immediately to support premium payments.
Opening up the tax credits means that individuals and small businesses get the same treatment as large corporations, he said.
A reporter asked Brady if he was concered that conservatives are calling his bill Obamacare-lite or Obamacare 2.0.
Brady said he calls his bill “Obamacare Gone.”
Walden said, “This is an important step moving forward.”
The bill fulfils the GOP’s promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare and is the first of a number of steps, he said.
Walden said the next steps are at the three committees, followed by the House Rules Committee, which clears bills for the House floor.
“We’ve held a lot of listening sessions with our members,” he said.
“I have met individually with the groups in our conference. We had a lot of discussions over the weekend with the White House and various folks there,” he said. “It is a legislative process. We now have a bill that is available for all to read.”
The text of the Brady-Walden bill is posted at ReadtheBill.gop.
Without this bill, Walden said Obamcare itself would collapse, which is why the insurance companies are getting out of the Obamacare market exchanges.
According to the Congressional Budget Office projections from 2010, 21 more million Americans would have coverage through the PPACA, but in the end it was only 10 million, as the costs and the coverage made Obamacare the wrong choice, he said.
Almost half of the people opting out of Obamacare are under age 25, he added. “We need to reform this market.”