Republicans Plan To Replace Obamacare With Obamacare

After last week’s legal validation of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court’s ruling has nudged Republicans to begin discussing the “replace” part of their “repeal and replace” mantra. Not surprisingly, when Republicans actually talk about which specific health reform measures would be best for the country, their examples are suspiciously similar to the constitutionally sound Affordable Care Act.

House Republicans will hold another symbolic vote to repeal Obamacare on July 11, leading many to question what alternatives they would provide. In the past few weeks, some Republicans have broken away from the “full repeal” battle cry, pledging to maintain some Obamacare provisions while still neglecting to offer tangible provisions of their own:

  • REP. RICK BERG (ND): A spokesman for Berg — who has previously voted to repeal Obamacare — said the congressman supports banning discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions and closing the Medicare “donut hole.”
  • REP. ALLEN WEST (FL): In May, the Tea Party favorite told ThinkProgress he would like to maintain the provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26. The measure — which was one of the first to take effect upon the reform’s passage — has already incorporated millions of young people into insurance pools. “We’ve got to make sure no American gets turned back for pre-existing conditions,” West also argued.
  • REP. ERIC CANTOR (VA): Last year, Cantor told college students at American University, “We too don’t want to accept any insurance company’s denial of someone and coverage for that person because he or she may have pre-existing condition.” Cantor told students that Republicans would push for a repeal of the health care bill while simultaneously submitting a replacement bill that also had provisions barring discrimination due to pre-existing and offers young people more affordable care options.
  • GOV. SCOTT WALKER (WI): Earlier this month, the embattled governor argued that Republicans should find an alternative to the individual mandate to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions can attain health insurance. “I think there are good elements. I just don’t think you need the federal government to do most of those things,” Walker said. Of course, without a mandate that expands insurance pools with healthy bodies, insurance companies would find it nearly impossible to systematically incorporate millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • SEN. ROY BLUNT (MO): Blunt broke ranks with Republicans when he came out in support of allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plans. An early endorser of Mitt Romney, Blunt argued that increased young people in risk pools would be a good way to “get a significant number of the uninsured into an insurance group without much cost.”
  • SEN. SCOTT BROWN (MA): Brown voted three times to repeal Obamacare, but revealed in May that he uses the young adult provision to keep his 23-year-old daughter on his congressional health insurance plan. Brown brushed off calls of hypocrisy by arguing that he was merely taking advantage of the law in Massachusetts. Brown’s plan — the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan — is actually regulated by the federal government, not state legislation.
  • REP. PHIL ROE (TN): According to Roe, “It would be hard to write a 2,700-page bill and not have something in there that you like.” Roe’s hedged position differed from his party leadership’s promise to nix the entire bill.
  • REP. TOM PRICE (GA): Price, the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, has been one of the most vocal supporters of repeal efforts. But with the Supreme Court decision looming, Price relented on his staunch position earlier this month. “There are some things that have been instituted that a lot of folks have begun to rely upon and plan — make their family plans — based upon. Twenty-six-year-olds being on their parents’ insurance is one of them.”
  • SEN. JOHN BARASSO (WY): Barasso echoed his colleague’s sentiment about the under-26 provision. “That’s something that I and other Republicans have supported from the beginning. And it should have been in an initial cooperative effort by Republicans and Democrats to actually lower the cost of health care, allow more people to be covered, and that’s an important part of what we need to do in the future.”
  • REP. PHIL GINGREY (GA): Gingrey told ThinkProgress that the ruling “was one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history.” Weeks ago, Gingrey pledged to take care of the sick once Republicans repeal Obamacare. “We have to make sure that we have a program — and we will, I can assure you we will — to take care of these folks.” He also called the under-26 provision a “good policy.”

Republicans placed their entire health policy on the incorrect assumption that the individual mandate would be ruled unconstitutional. Now that they have lost their central rallying cry, it has become increasingly clear they have no real plan to incorporate the 57 million people with pre-existing conditions should they actually repeal Obamacare.

But when they drop the impassioned anti-Obamacare rhetoric and address its actual provisions, many Republicans realize that Obamacare’s reforms are cost-effective ways to guarantee health insurance for millions of Americans who would otherwise be uninsured.


Steven Perlberg