On Wednesday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” House Speaker Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) defended the GOP’s Obamacare replacement by saying “there’s three phases here, and that’s what a lot of outside groups and folks just don’t understand the fact that, if we put everything in the bill we possibly want, we would have a filibuster, we wouldn’t be able to pass it in the Senate. This bill, which is the first phase of a three-phase plan is what we can pass without a filibuster in a budget bill.”
Ryan said the bill is the Better Way plan that Republicans ran on in 2016, which was “modeled on the Tom Price legislation, that’s what this is. This is the legislative text of that plan that we ran in 2016 on, on what we would replace Obamacare with. Tom Price, who’s now the Secretary of HHS was the architect of it. 12 Freedom Caucus members were the cosponsor of that bill as recently as December.”
He added, “What I think is happening, is people are getting a little confused about what you can and cannot put in what we call the reconciliation bill. So, I’m getting a little technical here, but there’s three phases here, and that’s what a lot of outside groups and folks just don’t understand the fact that, if we put everything in the bill we possibly want, we would have a filibuster, we wouldn’t be able to pass it in the Senate. This bill, which is the first phase of a three-phase plan is what we can pass without a filibuster in a budget bill. There are things like interstate shopping on health care, association health plans to let people buy – bulk buy their health insurance nationwide through buying pools, medical liability reform, all those things we very much believe in, which is part of our Better Way agenda, you cannot put in a budget bill, because then they can filibuster that entire bill.”
Ryan further stated that “We’re finding that some” members of Congress don’t understand what a reconciliation bill is. He continued, “So, what we’re having here is we’re passing this first installment which is, to gut Obamacare, repeal the mandates, repeal the taxes, repeal the spending. Then, we replace it with conservative Republican tax policy, that has been long-standing conservative reform, health savings accounts, tax credits to buy what you want to buy in state-regulated marketplaces, not federal, and risk pools. This is something that conservatives, through the Heritage Foundation, through AEI have been pushing for years. And then, the other pieces that we really believe in, Tom Price in phase 2, deregulates the marketplace. There are 1,442 provisions in Obamacare that says the Secretary has discretion. Tom Price is going to use that discretion to unwind Obamacare. And then phase 3, pass those other bills we very much believe in, like shopping across state lines, like medical liability reform. Those things will pass here in the House, because it only takes a majority. We’re going to send it to the Senate. We’re going to pressure the Senate to pass it, but they can filibuster that.”
When asked about the investment tax that is being repealed under the bill, Ryan stated that this was a tax passed to Obamacare, and so it’s being repealed, and tax and spending policy can be resolved in reconciliation.
After the discussion turned to the surcharge on premiums for late enrollment, and how it wouldn’t just allow people to wait until they got sick to buy insurance, Ryan answered that tightening the enrollment period would prevent that.
Ryan was also asked about defunding emergency Medicaid, and why that wasn’t a part of the bill, Ryan answered that “[W]e’re looking at Byrd Rule reconciliation issues. … We’ve got a little issue with that, and we’re working on that with the Senate. So, it — again, we’ve got these goofy Senate rules we’ve got to work with. We can’t do every single thing we want to. We would do all of these things if we could without getting a filibuster, bute don’t want to jeopardize this bill, and make it subject to a filibuster, which means we can’t do anything. … But here’s one more point I’d say, because we’re delegating, we’re giving Medicaid back to the states. It’s a massive amount of federalism. Then, the border state governors can do that. The border state governors decide what happens with their Medicaid populations. We cap it. We stop the expansion. We grow it at a slower rate over time, which saves trillions in the out years, which is a massive amount of debt reduction, and that is what we’re doing here which is a huge, huge conservative step forward for entitlement reform as well.”
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