House Freedom Caucus, Republican Study Committee Want Obamacare Repeal Now

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The House Freedom Caucus and several members of the Republican Study Committee urged Speaker Paul Ryan to adopt a more aggressive Obamacare repeal strategy.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-NC) said, “Instead of continuing to spin our wheels, we need a starting place. What the Senate passed in October 2015 is the best starting place … Let’s get that on the books, then we can move quickly after that to put in replacement components.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) argued that there is no reason to dawdle on Obamacare repeal, saying, “Functionally, [our idea] eliminates some of the excuses for our Senate colleagues; if they voted on this then, there is no reason they can’t vote on it now.” He continued, “I think a lot of people are looking to some of the policy debates to be an excuse not to vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act.”

The Freedom Caucus supports the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill. Rep. Meadows said, “If it’s less than the 2015 [bill], we will oppose it.” The 2015 repeal bill would remove costly Medicaid expansion and would have repealed the individual and employer mandates, including the subsidies and taxes that would pay for the health mandates.

Senate health committee chairman Lamar Alexander, however, remains skeptical of the Freedom Caucus’s plan. Alexander believes that we need replacement alongside an Obamacare repeal. The Chairman said, “If we just passed what we did in 2015? Nobody is seriously proposing that because it doesn’t have any replacement.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said that the Republican solution to Obamacare will take time. He said today, “Health care is very important to all Americans, we want to get it right, we’ve been taking our time to do that.” He continued, “We want to give states flexibility, and we want to give people better health care. We are going to accomplish both in the legislation we’ll be marking up in the near future”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) believes a straight repeal is the only path forward.

Sen. Paul said that he plans to oppose any Obamacare bill that doesn’t do as much as the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill. Hesaid, “I agree completely. I think that should be the minimum that we do, to repeal what we did in 2015. No less.”

Paul wants the same level repeal of Obamacare that they tried to enact in 2015. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) also demand a full repeal of Obamacare. GOP leaders need a 51 person majority in the Senate to pass the reconciliation bill to repeal Obamacare. If Sens. Paul, Cruz, and Lee vote against the current reconciliation package, it will fail.

Republicans remain entrenched within their camps; some GOP lawmakers argue they need to repair the Affordable Care Act before they can find a replacement. Republican governors and legislators wish to keep Medicaid expansion in their state, while the Freedom Caucus’s 2015 repeal bill would eliminate Medicaid expansion.

Speaker Ryan set multiple deadlines for Obamacare repeal — January 27, then February or March, and President Trump admitted it might even happen in 2018.

Congressman Meadows said that Republicans made a promise to the American people: “American families are hurting today under the crippling costs of the Affordable Care Act. We made a commitment to the American people to repeal this law–we must keep that promise. We remain open to and encourage a swift vote on a health care package that is market-based, consumer driven, and fair.”


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