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Sunday, January 29, 2017

GOP Lawmakers (Privately) Understand that Replacing Obamacare Is Hard

The Congressional Institute hosted a Philadelphia retreat for House and Senate Republicans this week.  Posing as a congressional spouse, an intruder recorded a closed-door discussion of the Affordable Care Act.  Mike DeBonis reports at The Washington Post:
The recording reveals a GOP that appears to be filled with doubts about how to make good on a long-standing promise to get rid of Obamacare without explicit guidance from President Trump or his administration. The thorny issues with which lawmakers grapple on the tape — including who may end up either losing coverage or paying more under a revamped system — highlight the financial and political challenges that flow from upending the current law.
Senators and House members expressed a range of concerns about the task ahead: how to prepare a replacement plan that can be ready to launch at the time of repeal; how to avoid deep damage to the health insurance market; how to keep premiums affordable for middle-class families; even how to avoid the political consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood, the women’s health-care organization, as many Republicans hope to do with the repeal of the ACA.
Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan report at The New York Times:
Now, as Republicans try to devise a replacement for the law, they have set a nearly impossible standard for themselves: They have promised that none of the 20 million people who gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act will lose it if the law is repealed, even as they lift its mandates and penalties, pull back the tax increases that pay for it and pledge to enact a new program that will be cheaper for taxpayers and consumers.
 In their private session, the recording of which was first reported on by The Washington Post, Republicans revealed that they understood the predicament they had largely created for themselves.
“I recognize that we can’t keep Obama’s promises,” Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey said. “They were wrong to begin with, and the system can’t be sustained.” He worried aloud about the possibility that some people could lose insurance as the law is unwound.
“We’re telling those people that we’re not going to pull the rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast, we are, in fact, going to pull the rug out from under them,” Mr. MacArthur said. After giving states the choice to expand Medicaid under the law, he said, reversing that expansion too quickly would run the risk of pulling a “bait and switch with the states.”