The number 4 ranking Republican in the House says that the Affordable Care Act is not likely to be repealed and Republicans should concentrate on reforming the state exchanges.
With the news this week that more than 600,000 Washington residents have acquired new health care plans through the state exchange, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said it’s unlikely the Affordable Care Act will be repealed.
“We need to look at reforming the exchanges,” the Eastern Washington Republican said Thursday.
The five-term congresswoman and chair of the House Republican Conference kicked off her re-election campaign this week with visits to Walla Walla, Colville and Spokane. She faces Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas.
McMorris Rodgers has been part of the Republican leadership in the House that has voted multiple times to repeal parts or all of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. GOP members have said the law is unworkable, will increase costs for some and force others into inadequate coverage or plans they don’t want.
McMorris Rodgers continued those criticisms Thursday, but said the framework established by the law likely will persist and reforms should take place within its structure.
“It is a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to health care,” she said. Consumers should have more choice for their coverage, and Democrats should abandon the idea that everyone will enroll because of the mandate, McMorris Rodgers added.
The congresswoman also said that the 85 percent of enrollees who received Medicaid coverage is a sign the program is not sustainable and many will receive subpar care.
“You’re seeing where they’ve had to reduce programs for the very people it’s meant to help,” McMorris Rodgers said. “Somebody’s going to have to pay the bill.”
Many Republicans will see McMorris Rodgers’ statement as a surrender. She may want Obamacare repealed but not even trying is being considered a betrayal by many on the right.
McMorris Rodgers is only giving voice to what most of the GOP leadership and many rank-and-file Republicans believe privately: even with a GOP takeover of the Senate, there are not enough votes to override the expected presidential veto of any repeal effort. It would take 66 votes in the Senate to repeal Obamacare and most of those Democrats who might consider voting to override Obama’s veto would have been defeated in 2014.
What about 2016? If the GOP can hang on to the Senate — no guarantee with so many Republicans running that year — and win the White House, it would be possible to scrap most of the ACA as long as Republicans had some kind of alternative that would lessen the blow for millions who will have subsidized insurance through the state exchanges. Obamacare infrastructure would have to be excised with a scalpel, not an ax, in order to prevent a collapse of the health insurance industry.
It can be done — must be done — and McMorris Rodgers is only stating what is possible. She will suffer for it, no doubt, but I’m sure she knew that when she made the statement.