A campaign promise made by Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) day one of his presidency turned into an assurance that it would be repealed and replaced within his first 100 days. Well now we’re far past the first 100 days and still without a repeal or replacement for Obamacare, and it’s safe to say tensions are running high.
The Pressure Is On
After the Senate failed to get the votes needed to pass its replacement plan, President Trump met with Republican senators to discuss the stalled healthcare push. Going so far as to discourage them from leaving Washington before reaching a solution, he called into question whether the already-delayed August recess should be scrapped altogether.
Additionally, Vice President Pence, Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma were scheduled to meet Wednesday evening with Republican senators who haven’t fully committed to the Senate bill.
Following the meeting with Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) seemed to have heeded the president’s words by announcing, “Next week, we’ll be voting on the motion to proceed, and I have every expectation that we’ll be able to get on the bill.” He didn’t clarify if this meant a straight repeal of the ACA or if a repeal-and-replace bill would be implemented.
But Will It Help?
Following Wednesday’s discussions in Washington, and Trump’s own words earlier this week – he tweeted “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” – it’s possible we could see the Senate vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan in the wings.
So far this year, we’ve been introduced to a few versions of repeal/replace legislation:
- –The American Health Care Act, passed by the House of Representatives on May 4. Rather than amend this version, the Senate decided to write its own bill.
- -The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Senate bill, which has gone through two revisions.
- -The Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), modeled after the 2015 bill to repeal the ACA (which then-President Obama vetoed), is a repeal-only bill that phases out the exchanges, subsidies, taxes, and Medicaid expansion over two years.
While both options have been met with opposition from both parties, the BCRA and ORRA are the most likely to be considered by the Senate next. McConnell is making attempts to persuade reluctant Republican senators, saying the Senate just needs to begin debating on each bill to make amendments so one might pass. To which NPR points out: if Republicans had held hearings on either bill, a lot of debating could have already occurred.
Unfortunately, even bringing the bills to the floor to debate won’t guarantee they’ll pass or that they’ll even ultimately turn out like they started. In such a vote-a-rama, any senator could offer amendments, making it easy for lawmakers to be pressured into voting for a bill, unlike anything they’ve considered so far. And CNBC even goes so far as to say that no matter what the GOP came up with to repeal and/or replace, it was destined to fail “because the ACA was already a compromise, politically viable in part because it was based on blueprints from…[Republican governor] Mitt Romney.”
So Where Do We Go From Here?
The Senate is hoping to move forward with voting for one of the pieces of legislation it introduced this month (the BCRA or ORRA) sometime in the next week. Whether or not they’ll have the votes for either measure, we’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, you can still count on ACAwise to be here to help you with everything ACA-related! We’ve got ACA e-filing, compliance, and all the ACA-related news to keep you in the loop and in line with the current IRS regulations.