January 11, 2017

Not so fast: 5 GOP senators seek to delay start of ACA repeal

Daily Briefing

    A group of Republican senators on Monday offered an amendment to the budget resolution that would delay the deadline for House and Senate committees to draft and approve legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    The amendment follows reports that some Republicans are skeptical of House and Senate leaders' plan to repeal the ACA before having a replacement plan in place.

    Budget resolution details

    The Senate last week voted 51-48 to begin debate on a budget resolution that initiates Republicans' efforts to repeal the ACA through the budget reconciliation process. The process allows bills related to spending and revenue to be passed by a simple majority of at least 51 votes, without being subject to a filibuster. Republicans lack a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, but hold 52 seats in the chamber.

    The budget resolution instructs two House committees and two Senate committees to draft and approve legislation that would include provisions to repeal parts of the ACA. The resolution gives the committees until Jan. 27 to do so.

    GOP senators seek delay

    The amendment which would extend the deadline from Jan. 27 to March 3, was proposed by GOP Sens.:

    • Bill Cassidy (La.);
    • Susan Collins (Maine);
    • Bob Corker (Tenn.);
    • Lisa Murkowski (Alaska); and
    • Rob Portman (Ohio).

    According to Bloomberg, the backers say they are still committed to repealing the ACA, but they would prefer to have a viable replacement plan detailed before moving forward.

    AMA to GOP: Don't repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan in place

    "This amendment will ensure that we move forward with a smart, responsible plan to replace the law as quickly as possible," Portman said.

    In addition, Corker in a statement said, "As President-elect [Donald] Trump has stated, repeal and replace should take place simultaneously, and this amendment will give the incoming administration more time to outline its priorities." He added, "By extending the deadline for budget reconciliation instructions until March, Congress and the incoming administration will each have additional time to get the policy right."

    Trump, who has not countered claims that he supports a simultaneous approach, on Monday said he is "not even a little bit" worried about Republicans replacing the ACA. "That's [going to] all work out," he said.

    GOP leaders seek to ease concerns

    Republican lawmakers and aides say GOP leadership is moving forward with their existing plan to draft an ACA repeal bill by Jan. 27, but leadership is considering a strategy that would add some replacement provisions to the repeal bill, Politico reports.

    Report: 52 million US adults have pre-existing conditions, could be affected by ACA repeal

    Some options under consideration include:

    • Establishing high-risk pools; and
    • Expanding the use of Health Savings Accounts.

    Further, Republicans say they will work on replacement legislation with less controversial provisions as soon as a repeal passes.

    According to Politico, GOP leaders hope this strategy will help prevent party members from defecting on a repeal vote (Dennis/Kapur, Bloomberg, 1/9; Sullivan et al., "PowerPost," Washington Post, 1/9; Bade et al., Politico, 1/9; Pear, New York Times, 1/9).

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