Outgoing Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) led the fight against the Affordable Care Act in the Senate, but during an appearance on Fox Business last night, Gregg — who has proposed a health bill that’s similar to what Democrats passed in March — disagreed with the Republican strategy of repealing and replacing the law. “Giving the Democrats another shot at health care is like giving an axe murderer another shot with an ax,” Gregg began before endorsing some of the Medicare cuts in the bill and conceding that repealing the law could allow insurers to continue increasing premiums:
CAVUTO: Well, do you worry senator that your party is going to make things worse or maybe provide an opportunity for insurance companies to keep raising premiums because you want to stave the law or delay some of its implementation? And in that gap insurance companies can continue hike, hike, hike, hike!
GREGG: Well, that would be unfortunate if that happened and I’m not going to say that you wouldn’t end up with some gaming of the system that way. But the simple fact is that the plan as structured today isn’t going to work except to push push us into a situation where the government gets expand by 2.5 trillion dollars — 2.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years.
CAVUTO: Would you repeal it or as John Boehner has indicated, starve it?
GREGG: I don’t think starving or repeal is probably the best approach here.
CAVUTO: What would you do?
GREGG: You basically go in and you restructure it. What we did in this proposal, which actually made some sense, was that we restructured the Medicare system in a way that saved half trillion to a trillion dollars for Medicare, out of Medicare. But we took all of that money and we created a brand new entitlement which we under-funded.
As The Hill notes, Gregg has previously supported the GOP’s repeal and replace strategy. “Our view is, you repeal and replace this bill,” Gregg said on CNN in March. “You replace it with better law and better approaches towards healthcare.” He also said on CNBC as recently as last month that using the budget reconciliation process to repeal major parts of healthcare reform were an option, too.
The House GOP has released a ‘Pledge’ that calls for repealing the entire health law, but the party hasn’t always backed this approach. In January, young guns Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Politico’s Mike Allen that Republicans “WILL NOT campaign for full health care repeal, but will demand partial repeal, including mandates for health coverage.” More recently, Republicans have tried to temper expectations for what they will be able to achieve if they do win back the House. (H/T: The Hill’s Michael O’Brien)