Congressional Republicans are looking to reach consensus with President Trump this week on a timeline and a process for replacing the Affordable Care Act.
Trump has said he will send his own replacement plan to Congress after his nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Rep. Tom Price, is confirmed. In a hearing last week, Price was vague on how Republicans should go about replacing the ACA, but he assured the committee that the incoming administration would put in place “a different construct” that would “make certain that individuals had the care and the kind of coverage that they needed for whatever diagnosis would befall them.”
President-elect Trump has added to the debate over what a replacement plan should look like, saying last week that his intention is to have “insurance for everybody” and “much lower deductibles” for consumers.
There are also a number of other Republican-generated plans already circulating on Capitol Hill, including a bill introduced this week by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that is designed to empower consumers to save unlimited amounts of money in health savings accounts; buy insurance across state lines; and expand association health plans to allow small business owners and individuals to pool together under their associations to purchase health coverage at a lower cost. Paul said his bill would provide Congress with an immediate replacement package as soon as the ACA is repealed.
“Getting government out of the American people’s way and putting them back in charge of their own health care decisions will deliver a strong, efficient system that doesn’t force them to empty out their pockets to cover their medical bills,” Paul said.
Trump is meeting today with GOP leaders at their congressional retreat in Philadelphia, and having a path forward on health care reform is among their top priorities. Some Republicans say they would welcome a replacement plan from the White House, but others want to retain control over the specific provisions in the plan. “This is going to be a collaborative process,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD). “We have a lot of members who are going to have input in it, and it will be shaped by members of Congress in the end.”
Democrats continued to criticize Republicans for wanting to dismantle the ACA before there is a clearly-defined alternative plan.
“As I’ve said many times, if Republicans are truly serious about helping women, families and seniors get quality, affordable care, they will stop rushing to dismantle our health care system and allow us to work together on real improvements that need to be made,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.