Republicans Develop New Strategy to Tackle Obamacare

Thursday, 05 Dec 2013 01:36 PM

By Melanie Batley

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A growing number of congressional Republicans are abandoning what they say is a futile strategy to repeal Obamacare, and are instead proposing a number of legislative fixes to tackle the worst effects of the law.

The move suggests that the party has all but abandoned attempts for a wholesale repeal of the law, a strategy which led to the government shutdown after Tea Party conservatives used the budget negotiations to force a vote to defund it.

"I, just like all my colleagues, want to repeal Obamacare. We think that's the best solution for the law. But repeal is always going to be hard. Therefore, I think we have a duty as elected leaders to try to do as much as possible to protect our constituents from the harm of the law," Arkansas GOP Rep. Tom Cotton told The Hill.

Other Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Jack Kinston of Georgia, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Paul Broun of Georgia, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia have proposed alternatives or voted to repair the law, according to The Hill. For example, a measure for a legislative fix by Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton to let people keep their insurance plans drew solid support from the party.

"Common sense conservatives recognize one irrefutable truth, and that is Obamacare cannot be repealed. So, instead of wasting their time talking about something that can't possibly happen, they are applying their energy towards something that can," Mark McKinnon, a strategist for former President George W. Bush, told The Hill.

In the days and weeks following the botched roll-out of the Obamacare website, others in the party suggested the best course of action would be to stand back and let the healthcare program implode.

But Republican Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan is making the case against that approach, and says he is pursuing measures for "substantial repair" of the healthcare program.

"I understand that," he said of the strategy to let the law fail, "but coming from a part of Michigan, a state that was first into the recession and arguably could be one of the last ones out…my district still has an average higher unemployment than the statewide average."

Still, the GOP has not entirely abandoned its attempts to roll back Obamacare. Separate to pursuing legislative fixes, the GOP House leadership is still looking at piecemeal ways to dismantle the program, including increased pressure on the administration and actions through the states to fight the set-up of insurance exchanges.

And the party is also pursuing other avenues to undermine the law in the form of publicizing case studies of constituents who have been harmed by Obamacare.

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