Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services, said Tuesday that the Republican platform to “repeal and replace” Obamacare is still “a work in progress”
The chief aim of the Republican platform is to make coverage more “affordable” and to increase “accessibility” for millions of Americans, Price said. The goal of the Republican repeal effort is to create a system of “patient-centered health care.”
The health secretary attempted to squelch some of the reports detailing recent disagreements among Republican lawmakers about how the Obamacare repeal effort should be structured. Price said that the process “has been going on for over a year” and will likely undergo several changes before the bill becomes law.
“You start at a starting point, people engage and they get involved in the process, sometimes to a greater degree,” Price said. “We’ll work through it. This is an important process to be had.”
House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden released the health care plan favored by Congressional Republicans Monday evening, called the American Health Care Act. The proposed legislation eliminates both the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance (the “mandate”), and the penalties linked to noncompliance with the Obamacare mandates. The House legislation also repeals the Obamacare Medicaid expansion program by 2020.
After the bill made its debut in Congress Monday evening, some GOP lawmakers and conservative think-tanks publicly condemned the effort as lackluster, weak, and largely a repackaging of Obamacare.
Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky came out swinging on Twitter after the bill surfaced. Amash led the charge, tweeting that the GOP platform is simply “Obamacare 2.0.” Paul, coming off Amash’s heels, fanned the flames, tweeting out Tuesday morning: “The House leadership Obamacare Lite plan has many problems. We should be stopping mandates, taxes and entitlements not keeping them.” Paul also predicted that the plan in its current form wouldn’t pass.
Conservative groups also chimed in, expressing their dissatisfaction with what Republicans presented to Congress. “In many ways, the House Republican proposal released last night not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them,” Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said in a statement. “Many Americans seeking health insurance on the individual market will notice no significant difference,” between the GOP proposal and Obamacare.
Another Republican lawmaker was voicing major concerns about the GOP proposals floating around Capitol Hill well before Monday evening. GOP proposals to repeal Obamacare contain “what increasingly appears to be a new health insurance entitlement with a Republican stamp on it,” Chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) Mark Walker said in late February. The congressman said that, without “substantial changes, I cannot vote for the bill and, in good conscience, cannot recommend RSC members vote for it either.”
Price was insistent that both he and the administration will work with Republicans to smooth over any differences. “We are just going to keep working with everyone, so we can make it happen,” Price told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Price states that he has not been in contact with the Walker since the bill was put forth Monday evening.
This report, by Robert Donachie, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.