House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., plan to introduce what they are terming an “alternative” health care bill Thursday which will not repeal ObamaCare, but work alongside the existing Affordable Care Act and modify various parts of the system.
The legislation was originially called the HELP Act, but was renamed Wednesday to “The World’s Greatest Health Care Bill. Ever” a title infused with a dose of Donald Trump-esque hubris.
Sessions notes that the legislation allows people to keep ObamaCare if they so desire, noting that his measure does not entail a full repeal of ObamaCare.
“Someone who repeals (ObamaCare) is left with nothing,” he said.
That’s why his bill works in tandem with the existing law.
“I will put anyone else’s bill against this bill,” Sessions said.
The legislation does not repeal any of the taxes in ObamaCare, but involves Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) where people can save for expenditures, pay for out of pocket needs or also use those funds to pay for health deductibles.
At a minimum, Sessions says that people must at least carry a health plan which has a high deductible and that his bill is silent on whether or not plans should or should not cover abortion and reproductive health services.
The engineering of a “replacement” bill for ObamaCare has stymied Republicans since 2009, which was amplified by the 2010 campaign slogan of “repeal and replace.”
Congressional Republicans finally managed to successfully vote to repeal ObamaCare in both bodies recently, but President Obama vetoed that effort. The continuing trouble for Congressional Republicans since has been finding a replacement bill which would pass.
Up until now, there has never been such a plan because no such blueprint ever had anywhere close to the votes needed to pass.
Authoring a bill, let alone a bill which doesn't call for a full repeal of ObamaCare, is a huge break in where Republicans have been on the heath care issue.
That's not to say that all Republicans can go along with the proposed bill because it goes against what has been the GOP doctrine for so long, but it's significant in the fact that two Republicans are taking this approach.
A task force commissioned by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is expected to roll out a set of general health care goals sometime in the next five weeks.
Ryan hopes the House would address the topic next year, but Sessions notes that his legislation is not just a set of ideas, but an actual bill, complete with a bill number.
“It’s to influence them,” said Sessions when discussing his plan. “Instead of principles, I want a bill.”