Republicans have promised for the better part of a decade, to repeal Obamacare. That promise proved impossible to keep earlier this summer when the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed. The effort was proposed using a budget reconciliation process and only required Republican support. Internal division within the party made crafting a suitable replacement impossible, and in the end, nothing was accomplished. Now, as the deadline for budget reconciliation looms, Republicans are considering if they should take one more swing at it.
The Bipartisan Choice
After the Republican-only attempts to affect healthcare policy change failed, many pointed to the failure as evidence that the Republicans should work with Democrats to find a bipartisan solution. As such, the Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group of representatives in the House who are working on a proposal.
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are also working on a bipartisan effort to shore up insurance markets. The cooperative approach would address problems in Obamacare without repealing it. But, the bipartisan option is not a simple one. There are real and vast differences in policy priorities between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of healthcare.
The American people broadly favor this approach. The Republican repeal effort was met with almost zero public support and significant public outcry.
The Republican-Only Approach
With a September 30th procedural deadline looming, several Republicans are feeling pressure to try once more to repeal Obamacare with a simple majority and bypass the Democrats.
Many are concerned that another failed attempt to repeal Obamacare would only serve to injure the Republican party further. It seems unlikely that the Senate will reopen those wounds if they are not entirely sure that this attempt will be successful.
The last ditch effort is a proposal to repeal parts of Obamacare and replace those parts with block grant programs. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are said to be planning to introduce the proposal on Wednesday.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) supports the block grant proposal but is not optimistic about its prospects. He said, “I don’t see it. I don’t see voting on doing it one more time.”