“You have to remember this law is getting much worse,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan of the Affordable Care Act. “It is what actuaries say, ‘entering a death spiral.’ High, high premiums increase, high deductibles, no choices. We have to fix this problem.”
Congressional Republicans have targeted the nation’s governors in their effort to dismantle Obamacare – a project they say is the number one priority as they move into the new year. State governors, who have particularly struggled with the effects of the ACA and the uninsured, could be just what the GOP needs to repeal Obama’s disastrous healthcare overall.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-KY) specifically asked the governors for ideas about how to lower costs while expanding choices for customers. “Working as a team, with your help and creative ideas, we can achieve our mutual goal of putting patients first,” he wrote, asking them to answer by January 6th.
McCarthy announced his agenda this week after meeting with Senate GOP colleagues and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. “We’ll be moving to the Obamacare replacement” as soon as the Senate reconvenes on January 3rd, he said, referring to a repeal bill that will likely pass with a majority vote under a rare budgetary rule.
Congress plans to use that rule to repeal large portions of the ACA, but the effective date of the repeal could be delayed by months (or years) to give lawmakers adequate time to design replacement legislation.
Like Obamacare, the replacement law will subsidize coverage and protect those with health problems. Unlike Obamacare, the new law would require far less federal regulation and would eliminate the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance or face penalties.
Meanwhile, President Obama continues to urge Americans to sign up for ACA health insurance plans despite the obvious effort to repeal – or at least modify – Obamacare. “Don’t let Republicans in Congress take us back to the days when you could be denied insurance for having a pre-existing condition,” said Obama.
GOP leaders have admitted that replacing the current law could take years, and Ryan assures us that the transition will be smooth – “so we’re not pulling the rug out from under people midstream.”
But stubborn Democrats insist they will not help Republicans ruin Obama’s legacy and complain about what could happen if the ACA act is repealed.
“Given that repealing the ACA will blow a massive hole in state budgets across the country and is the exact opposite of fiscal conservatism, it’s no surprise that Republicans have no idea how to handle this issue and are looking everywhere they can for help,” said a spokesman for NY Senator Charles Schumer.
The Dems did enjoy a small victory this week, however, in a water resources bill that will give $170 million to Flint, Michigan and other cities suffering from lead-tainted water.
Another bill in the works – known as “21st Century Cures” – passed a test vote in the Senate this Monday despite vocal opposition from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The $6+ billion bill would fast-track regulatory approval of innovative drugs, provide $1 billion to fight the nation’s painkiller and heroin addiction, and usher in bipartisan mental health reforms.