A Clear Path for Repealing and Replacing Obamacare Is Coming Into View
House and Senate leaders deserve a lot of credit for putting together a bill that repeals much of Obamacare and skillfully navigating it through both chambers using the budget-reconciliation process. That’s no small achievement, though President Obama is sure to veto the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.
But it’s likely to be only a partial preview of what could happen in 2017 — if a Republican wins the White House. It is telling that the bill Congress is poised to send to President Obama delays repeal of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and health-insurance subsidies for two years. That way, Republican senators could promise their constituents that a replacement for Obamacare would be put in place before the federal funding for their plans was withdrawn. If there is an opportunity to repeal Obamacare in 2017, these senators (and many House members too) will want to include the replacement provisions in the same legislation rolling back Obamacare.
A Republican president will want to put in place a program that is better than Obamacare. That means providing access to health-care coverage that is better than Medicaid or what is offered on the exchanges. House speaker Paul Ryan understands this. He pledged this week that the House will take up and pass a plan to replace Obamacare next year. Passing a bill in the House would force more compromise among different factions on a precise replacement plan and lay the groundwork for legislative action in 2017.
A clear path for repeal and replace is now coming into view. But to stay on that path, Obamacare opponents need to address, right now, three critical aspects of the effort. These aspects include risk-corridor payments under Obamacare, the “Cadillac” tax, and tax credits.