Rep. Diane Black, (R-TN), the interim chairwoman of the House Budget Committee is expected to call a hearing next week on a reconciliation bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, according to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina).
Meadows made the announcement during a meeting with reporters Wednesday about the future of the health reform law. He was joined at the briefing, which was hosted by the Heritage Foundation, by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Meadows, Lee and Jordan are all members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Meadows added that House Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would host briefings with members next week about Medicaid reform and health savings accounts.
However, all three confirmed that there is still no consensus on what should replace the law, but everyone agrees the bill should be repealed in the next two to three months so that Congress can turn their attention to other matters such as crafting a new federal budget.
They say the key motivator that will get Republicans to coalesce around replacement of the ACA won’t be continued cries of uncertainty from the insurance market, rather the repeal of the law, as it will push them to come up with a replacement quicker once they know for sure that the ACA is gone.
“Yeah there are questions about what will follow Obamacare, what will come in its place and yes and it’s going to be difficult to find consensus, even within our own party, but we cannot make progress until we first repeal Obamacare,” Lee said.
Meadows also revealed that he called the White House wondering about President’s Donald Trump’s interview with Bill O’Reilly in which he said a replacement wouldn’t be rolled out until late this year or next.
“His comments were more about a transition period that it may take a year or more to actually transition into a new plan,” Meadows said. He said that the White House assured him they were still supportive of repealing and replacing the ACA as soon as possible.
Jordan criticized Republican colleagues who appeared to be softening their tone around the topic of repealing the law. Senate Help Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) characterized Republican efforts as “repairing Obamacare.”
“Our task is to do what [voters] sent us here to do and the first order of business is repealing Obamacare not ‘repairing it’ not what Cassidy and Collins was saying ‘if you like Obamacare in your state you can keep it,” Jordan said.
Jordan, Meadows and Lee all want the 2015 repeal bill that passed both chambers and was vetoed by President Barack Obama to be the foundation of Republican lawmakers’ next steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
That legislation repealed the mandate that individuals have health coverage and that companies with 50 or more employees provide employees affordable insurance. It also would have ended federal subsidies to help people afford insurance under the ACA and scrap funding for Medicaid expansion. It also gave lawmakers two years to come up with a replacement plan.
A key replacement idea that does have consensus on Capitol Hill is ensuring people with pre-existing conditions can continue to find and keep insurance. Insurance leaders have said that without having a mechanism in place to ensure that the young and healthy get insurance, insurers wouldn’t be able to stay in the marketplace, and the ones that do stay would raise premiums.
Jordan said that if the amount of health benefits that must be covered under a plan were reduced from what was mandated through the ACA, insurers could offer cheaper plans that would entice the young and healthy to sign up, making the need for a mandate unnecessary.
Jordan added he is unmoved by Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s arguments about the benefits of Medicaid expansion, and would support repeal legislation that would end the coverage. About 700,000 people have gained Medicaid coverage in the state as a result of expansion under the ACA.