Two top Republicans want to fix the Affordable Care Act in place of a wholesale repeal — something GOP leadership has promised for the last eight years.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have brought to light the struggles being faced by the GOP over the right’s replace and repeal policy challenges.
Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said at a hearing Wednesday:
“I think of it as a collapsing bridge. . . . You send in a rescue team and you go to work to repair it so that nobody else is hurt by it and you start to build a new bridge, and only when that new bridge is complete, people can drive safely across it, do you close the old bridge. When it’s complete, we can close the old bridge, but in the meantime, we repair it. No one is talking about repealing anything until there is a concrete practical alternative to offer Americans in its place.”
Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Thursday that he “could stand either” repealing or repairing the law. “I’m saying I’m open to anything. Anything that will improve the system, I’m for,” he said.
President Trump promised one month ago to repeal ObamaCare while replacing it with a new plan that would offer cheaper and better care for Americans. He has offered no public-facing solutions at this time.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), continues to voice his opinion that a wholesale repeal and replacement is the only solution.
Ryan on Thursday message on health care by insisting that repair is the same thing as replace.
“There’s a miscommunication going on,” Ryan told “Fox & Friends.” “If we’re going to repair the U.S. health-care system . . . you must repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Hatch said on Thursday, “I believe that we need to repeal Obamacare immediately, and provide for a stable transition period. In my view, we need to advance replacement policies in tandem with the repeal process. And then we can keep working on the other parts of the system.”
Hatch also warned Republicans that they only had limited power in how they can deal with ObamaCare. Concerns over those limitations have created frustration and consternation within the GOP.
On the recording, made last week at a GOP retreat in Philadelphia, Republicans worried that they would be blamed if the health-care system implodes in the wake of their repeal plans. Alexander said, “The word ‘repair’ is a lot better than the word ‘repeal.’ . . . Saying we’re going to repair the damage is more accurate.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), said Thursday that the procedural process in the Senate and the words used to describe it can be complicated while noting that Republicans needed to replace as much of ObamaCare as possible.
“It gets a little confusing,” Cornyn admitted. “I don’t think even if we wanted to repair Obamacare we could do it. That’s why I believe we’re going to do repeal and replace.”
“If you’re talking about repairing the Affordable Care Act, it’s unrepairable,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) echoed. The chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus added, “We need to repeal it. We need to replace it. If you want to call that a repair, so be it, but I don’t know that that makes it any more palatable to the folks back home.”
Ryan for his part is sticking behind the new “repair” message. “Our job is to repair the American health-care system and rescue it from the collapse that it’s in. And the best way to repair a health-care system is to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s not an either/or.”
Essentially, the GOP is once again using a plethora of carefully chosen words in tandem to confuse the American voter base as they attempt to replace ObamaCare with a yet to be determined plan that could displace upwards of 20 million Americans who currently receive care under the Affordable Care Act.
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