Don’t be fooled—the debate over whether to scrap the health care law is not yet over, and what appears to be merely a question of timing is about much more than that. Republicans will have to tread a careful path that balances a desire to abandon Obamacare as soon as possible with the need to respect the reality that the complexities of changing the system will persist well beyond any near-term bill signing ceremonies. It’s true that widespread, sudden disruption of existing health insurance arrangements could short-circuit a workable transition to more market-oriented and less Washington-centric health policy reforms. While the risk of ending up on the merry-go-round of ACA replacement proposals lacking sufficient support, depth, or effectiveness is real, there are risks posed by the opposite reaction: the desire for quick and simple repeal.
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President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at Democrats on Thursday over their efforts to preserve Obamacare, denouncing the measure as a “lie” as he called for a less expensive and more effective health care system. “The Democrats, lead by head clown Chuck Schumer, know how bad Obamacare is and what a mess they are in,” Mr. Trump wrote in the first of three posts on Twitter. “Instead of working to fix it, they do the typical political thing and BLAME,” Trump continued on Twitter. “The fact is Obamacare was a lie from the beginning. ‘Keep you doctor, keep your plan!’” He said it was time for Republicans and Democrats to work together on a “plan that really works — much less expensive & FAR BETTER!”
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Republicans won the first skirmish in the Obamacare fight Wednesday, voting to begin debating fast-track budget procedures that, if successful, would allow the GOP to kill the 2010 health care law without having to face a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. The 51-48 vote, on the second day of the 115th Congress, underscores how serious Republicans are in making good on their repeal pledge. But it also signaled that Democrats are just as committed to defending the Affordable Care Act.
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House Republicans say they aim to send an Obamacare repeal bill to the White House by Feb. 20, following a meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
“We want to have the budget on the president’s desk by the 20th,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) said Wednesday after a House GOP conference meeting that Pence attended. “We’re going to be working to hit those benchmarks, and the pace of work is going to change significantly around here.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s staff pushed back on that timeline after the meeting, saying it was incorrect.
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President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence both paid a visit to Capitol Hill Wednesday, in the first formal engagement over the future of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans finally have the power to repeal, but the question is whether they have the grit to replace ObamaCare.
Mr. Pence told Republicans that repeal and replace is the Trump Administration’s “first order of business,” while Mr. Obama ordered Democrats not to “rescue” the GOP by helping to pass a “TrumpCare replacement.” Going by his business background Donald Trump won’t mind putting his name on a health-care plan, or anything else, but Republicans need to appreciate the reality that they will soon own ObamaCare. Until they pass a coherent and market-oriented substitute, as a political matter ObamaCare is TrumpCare, like it or not.
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Vice President-elect Mike Pence will rally House Republicans Wednesday morning on a plan to repeal Obamacare, POLITICO has learned — a counter-punch to President Barack Obama’s visit to the Hill the same day.
Pence will meet with the full House Republican Conference to talk about the party’s plan to dismantle Obama’s signature health care law, according to a House Republican leadership aide. The meeting is House Republicans’ first of the new Congress, which kicks off Tuesday.
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Zeke Emanuel, one of Obamacare’s architects, tells NPR that there is possibility for bipartisan health care reform in replacing Obamacare. “I understand that the president-elect, Donald Trump, wants a bipartisan bill. He really does I think genuinely want a bill and a health care system that works for all Americans, that achieves universal coverage, no preexisting disease exclusions. And I think therefore there is some ray of optimism that we could actually get a compromise bill…The bill would have to construct both the repeal part but simultaneously the replacement part. And I think if you do it that way, you could begin to negotiate with Democrats.”
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In less than three weeks’ time, when Donald Trump becomes our next president, he will take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
It is fitting, then, that Trump has committed to repealing and replacing one of his predecessor’s most infamous unconstitutional policies, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But he won’t be able to do it alone. Repealing Obamacare requires Congress to write legislation for the president to sign into law.
Congress can and should do this in January, before Inauguration Day. There is no excuse not to.
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AEI’s Improving Health And Health Care Plan, developed by a group of scholars affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute and released on December 9, 2015, only partially repeals Obamacare. The replacement consists of three broad components:
1. Private Health Insurance Reform. This would consist of 4 parts:
- Age-Adjusted Tax Credits. Obamacare’s income-related subsidies are replaced with less expensive advanceable and refundable tax credits that vary only by age (0-17, 18 to 34, 35 to 49, and 50 and over).
- Automatic Enrollment. Any household that does not take the tax credit they receive and purchase insurance of their choice will automatically be enrolled in a catastrophic plan equal to the value of the credit for which that household is eligible. States have the option to decline to implement default enrollment.
- Capped Tax Exclusion. The long-standing tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance coverage is retained, but the ACA’s Cadillac tax is replaced by a functionally-equivalent cap on the amount of the exclusion ($8,000 for single and $20,000 for family coverage).
- Expanded Use of Health Savings Accounts. All households become eligible to open an HSA account regardless of enrolled health plan. Those that open an HSA can make tax preferred contributions of up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families. Beneficiaries enrolled in HDHPs would be allowed to make contributions up to the allowable amounts under current law in addition to the $2,000/$4,000 contributions allowed for all. As well, a one-time HSA credit for up to $1,000 for those that are enrolled in an HSA-compatible plan in 2017.
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The Alternative to Obamacare, originally developed by Jeffrey Anderson and released by the 2017 Project as A Winning Alternative to Obamacare, first released on February 10, 2014, starts by fully repealing Obamacare. The replacement consists of three major components:
- Obamacare’s income-related subsidies are replaced with less expensive tax credits that vary only by age (0-17, 18-34, 35-49 and 50-64).
- The long-standing tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance coverage is retained, but the ACA’s Cadillac tax is replaced by a functionally-equivalent cap on the amount of the exclusion (set at the 75th percentile of annual employer sponsored insurance premiums); workers in firms with fewer than 50 full-time-equivalent workers would be allowed to purchase non-group coverage with tax credits.
- Annual contribution limits for health savings accounts are increased to $6,250 for individuals and $12,500 for families. As well, enrollees in health savings accounts are eligible to receive a one-time, refundable tax credit of $1,000 to be deposited directly into the account.