Key GOP Senator: ACA Repeal Will Take Years
Lauren Fox reports on the comments of Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on the logistics of accomplishing a long-standing GOP goal on Talking Points Memo.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) warned Thursday that it could take years to fully repeal and replace Obamacare.
In an interview with reporters on Capitol Hill, Alexander said the goal of Republicans was to “be the rescue party instead of the party that pushes millions of Americans who are hanging by the edge of their fingernails over the cliff.”
Alexander, the chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that will play a central role in repealing and replacing Obamacare, signaled that the process will have to be incremental rather than rapid if Republicans want their plan to succeed.
Since Donald Trump was elected last week, Republicans have been clear that getting rid of Obamacare is a high priority. But actually following through may take some more time.
“Eventually, we’ll need 60 votes to complete the process of replacing Obamacare and repealing it because Obamacare was not passed by reconciliation it was passed by 60 votes. And it was cleaned up by reconciliation because Scott Brown won his election,” Alexander said. “Before the process is over, we’ll need a consensus to complete it, and I imagine this will take several years to completely make that sort of transition to make sure we do no harm, create a good health care system that everyone has access to and that we repeal the parts of Obamacare that need to be repealed.”
Alexander’s comments offer insight into what is sure to be a complicated and politically fraught process, but he remained vague on details. Alexander said he sees major problems with the Obamacare exchanges, but assured reporters that he agreed with President-elect Trump’s position that people with pre-existing conditions should still be protected under the law.
“The exchanges are the first problem, they need to be repealed, the individual mandate needs to be repealed. There are a number of things that need to be repealed, but I think what we need to focus on first is what would we replace it with and what are the steps that it would take to do that?” he said. “Preexisting conditions will stay. There is no way the Congress is going to repeal preexisting conditions. it might take a different form, but people with preexisting conditions are going to be able to buy insurance in any replacement plan Republicans put forward.”
Alexander’s outlook is that senators should take time to move forward. Alexander has experience taking things slow. He led the overhaul of No Child Left Behind Act with bipartisan support. It took six years.
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center