Though President Donald Trump has urged Republicans to have a replacement plan ready “very quickly” after Obamacare is repealed, it doesn’t appear the Senate is in any serious hurry to comply.
In fact, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Republican lawmakers have not yet begun working in earnest on a replacement plan for the controversial Affordable Care Act.
“To be honest,” he told The Huffington Post, “there’s not any real discussion taking place right now.”
Last month, Politico received an audio recording of a health-care meeting at the Republican retreat in Philadelphia, revealing GOP lawmakers are concerned about what to do with former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. Corker said those conversations are common.
“At the retreat, which y’all unfortunately were able to listen to every word of, … we had breakout sessions where it was just the Senate talking about it, and you would have heard more of the same,” he said. “But the fact is, we’re gonna end up covering people and we’re gonna end up granting flexibilities, but there’s gonna be a cost associated with it.”
Trump has only complicated the matter by insisting that Obamacare be fully replaced at the same time it is repealed. He told The New York Times last month: “It won’t be repeal and then two years later go in with another plan.”
“I feel that repeal and replace have to be together, for very simply, I think that the Democrats should want to fix Obamacare,” he continued. “They cannot live with it, and they have to go together.”
Corker, though, said he has “no idea” when Republicans might get down to business on how they plan to replace Obamacare, which is struggling with fewer people signing up and insurance providers looking for ways out.
“I don’t see any congealing around ideas yet. And I think it’s fine that we take our time,” he told the Post. “[I] mean, we’re dealing with something that is very important, very complicated. It’s explosive if not handled properly, and we should take our time and do it right.”
As the Post outlines, there are an abundance of ideas to replace Obamacare:
Some senators have taken steps to advance the Republican health care agenda. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in 2015 co-sponsored a health care bill with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), working across the Capitol with Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). Hatch could draw on that measure for his panel’s work in crafting a replacement.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released an outline of policies he favors to transition from the Affordable Care Act to a new system, but he hasn’t actually detailed what the new system would look like. And other Republican senators, including Bill Cassidy (La.) and Susan Collins (Maine), have talked about new health care proposals.
In reality, there are too many ideas, which has made it difficult for lawmakers to move forward with anything.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) quashed the idea of just repairing portions of Obamacare. He said the Republicans still plan a full “repeal and replace” of the law.
“If you’re going to repair the American health-care system and fix its problems, you have to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better: patient-centered health care,” he told NBC News Sunday.
“Somewhere along the line, there was confusion that we were going to take the Obamacare architecture and, you know, tinker at the margins and repair it,” he continued. “You can’t. It is a collapsing law.”
A January poll by CNN found that 55 percent of Americans support Obamacare’s repeal as long as it is accompanied by a replacement. Only 21 percent favor a repeal even if no replacement plan is ready while 22 percent are against repealing the law altogether.