- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) released his ACA replacement plan on Wednesday.
- The plan was released days after Sens. Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins released their ACA alternative bill.
- Paul's plan, if passed into law, would immediately repeal the "individual and employer mandates, community rating restrictions, rate review, essential health benefits requirement, medical loss ratio, and other insurance mandates."
This is the week to dust off your ACA replacement plan. It seems Republicans are racing to put forth their ACA replacement ideas so they can freshen up their Twitter bios with the phrase: "I fixed Obamacare." One of the challenges to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act hasn't been whether they want to replace it or not. That's been clear for years. The issue is what to replace the ACA with. There have been many replacement plans presented over the years but little consensus.
This week's news highlights this lack of consensus as Republicans scramble over each other. Take, for example, The Hill's Peter Sullivan tweet from Paul's press call:
On press call, Rand Paul criticizes Cassidy/Collins ObamaCare plan: "If you like ObamaCare you can keep it is not a ringing rallying cry"— Peter Sullivan (@PeterSullivan4) January 25, 2017
GOP leadership seems to be messaging to congressional members to pull that consensus together as the health policy zeitgeist shifts from repeal-and-delay to repeal-and-replace. President Donald Trump last Friday issued an ACA executive order which many saw as a signal he doesn't intend to wait around for Congress to get started on health reform.
Republicans are embarking on a three-day retreat in Philadelphia which began on Wednesday. Naturally, one of the topics of discussion is ACA repeal. Reports from the event reveal a vague timeline for ACA repeal. Reuters reported House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) set March/April as a target date. Axios' Caitlin Owens reported policy specifics over replacement were not detailed on Wednesday, adding "Rep. Diane Black said...House committees will begin marking up the repeal bill — which will contain pieces of replacement — in the next two weeks."
New Republic's Brian Beutler has an interesting read on the potential effects of dragging out ACA reform. "Many Republicans won’t repeal Obamacare without a replacement in hand; protracted negotiations maximize the chance that Obamacare survives, or escapes maximal harm," Beutler wrote.
Because we don't have a replacement plan in hand currently, it's difficult to assess it's impact. Limited GOP political weight has given support to either the Paul or Cassidy-Collins plan (Trump or Ryan haven't supported either at least). Pre-existing conditions and keeping children under 26-years-old on parent's plan seem to be popular while the individual mandate is on the chopping black. Opinions on lifetime insurance limits appear to get mixed reactions. But as Beutler points out and as Trump and Ryan have signaled, Republicans need a clear plan party members can get behind for their ACA agenda to work out in their favor.