PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Republicans from the House, Senate and White House gathered in Philadelphia this week searching, among other things, for some agreement on how exactly to “repeal and replace” the federal health law. By the end of the second day of the three-day retreat, however, it was clear they were not yet singing from the same hymnbook.
House and Senate Republican leaders did seem to settle on a timing strategy for overhauling the Democrats’ health care law that could take them through the summer, even if they were light on specifics.
“We don’t want to set arbitrary deadlines on things,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “We want to move quickly, but we want to get things right.”
Rank-and-file Republicans said they are coalescing around a strategy that would not have a single replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Instead they foresee a combination of changes they can make to the law through a budget bill that only requires 51 votes in the Senate, regulatory action and executive orders by the Trump administration, and individual bills addressing smaller aspects of the health system that will follow later.
“If you’re waiting for another 2,700-page bill to emerge, you’re going to have to wait until the sun doesn’t come up, because that’s not how we’re going to do it,” Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told reporters, referring to the length of the Affordable Care Act. “There’s no single fix. There’s no single plan.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., earlier also described the idea of separate “buckets” consisting of fast-track budget legislation, administrative action by Trump officials and more traditional legislation. “We’re looking forward to being very busy until August,” she said.
Some of the individual bills Blackburn mentioned are those Republicans have pursued for years, such as allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines and capping some damages in medical malpractice suits in an effort to deter doctors from practicing “defensive medicine” to avoid being sued. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., whom Trump has nominated to run the Department of Health and Human Services, has been a leading advocate of some of these GOP proposals.
Share this Post