House GOP committed to Obamacare alternative, but passing a bill this year is another story

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House Republican leaders are committed to passing an Obamacare alternative before the November elections, but even proponents of the effort are skeptical that it will produce anything beyond a set of policy principles.

Senior Republicans charged with writing health care legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act are grappling with two major challenges: Drafting a package that can attract enough GOP votes to clear the House and crafting policy that doesn't undermine the party's politically effective criticism of Obamacare. To avoid those roadblocks, Republicans are signaling that they might delay plans for comprehensive legislation in favor of passing a set of narrowly targeted reforms.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is running the process, with an assist from his leadership deputies and top committee chairmen. Rank-and-file Republicans familiar with their work describe it as a diligent attempt to develop workable, conservative health care policy that jettisons what Americans dislike about Obamacare while addressing the problems with health insurance that have lingered since the law was enacted in 2010. Nothing is likely to be ready for consideration before July.

“House Republicans will offer our own solutions that focus on patient-centered care, while reducing costs through increased competition, improving outcomes and expanding choices and coverage,” Cantor told the Washington Examiner in a statement provided by his office. “Repealing Obamacare is a prerequisite, but we will also share our alternative approach with working middle-class families being harmed by that law.”