WASHINGTON – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) declined to set a time limit on repealing and replacing Obamacare but predicted that Republicans would ultimately be able to get it done.
“We will repeal Obamacare. It is the replacing of Obamacare that you want to make sure you get right. One thing I’ve always found – the argument was you need to change the healthcare system. Obamacare will not stand on its own. I mean, you look at, what was it, 23 co-ops when they passed Obamacare? What were they given? Three billion dollars. Now 16 of them failed. Premiums are up 25 percent,” McCarthy said during a discussion at a Washington Post “Daily 202” event.
“You go through all the ramifications – people leaving the market, a lot of states only have one option in there – we never thought that would succeed. But repealing, you want to make sure you replace it properly. This is the problem – they closed ranks and didn’t listen to anybody. They made it a political decision instead of a policy decision.”
He explained that Republicans have started the process of putting together a replacement plan.
“We put a little group together to map out where we would go. At the time it was the chairman of Ways and Means Paul Ryan, it was Tom Price, myself – but the other thing we did, we brought governors in. We listened to governors – they have ideas, too – and what we thought would work at the very beginning is not where we finally ended up because we sat there and talked policy,” McCarthy said.
“So what I’m going to do, I’m putting letters out this week to all the governors and insurance commissioners. Give me your ideas, too, on replacement. We want to make sure we get this done right. We’re going to get it done,” he added.
McCarthy provided a snapshot into the Republican strategy for repealing Obamacare but stopped short of designating a timeframe to tackle the issue.
“Repealing is easier and faster because that could be a 51 vote. Replacing is going to be 60 votes, so I don’t want to set a time limit that this has to be done by this certain date. I want to make sure it gets done right,” he said.
The majority leader said covering pre-existing conditions and allowing individuals 26 years of age or less to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans were originally “Republican policies” that would stay inside of a Republican healthcare reform package.
“I believe those stay, but we’ve got an idea and a better way,” he said.
McCarthy was asked about the items on the House Republican agenda in the first 100 days of the Donald Trump presidency.
“What I’ve found in this past administration – frustration with the country – is the lack of growth. One of the elements happens to be especially if you look at the economic news productivity is down in America three straight quarters; that’s because you are hiring new people just to deal with regulation… I think reorganizing where we have co-equal branches, bringing that Article I back, you are going to see at the very beginning REINS Act, the midnight rule, others, going through,” he said.
McCarthy said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) staying on as the Democratic leader would help the GOP maintain their majority in Congress.
“I want to help her. I think that’s a good place for her to be and I think it’s very helpful for us to stay in the majority,” he said. “Can you believe she puts out that she wants to keep the current [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee]? I would look into firing after what those people did in that last election, but more power to her.”
McCarthy expressed optimism about a tax reform package passing under the new Republican-led Congress.
“It will be simpler and fairer. I think you will end up with three rates, not five. I think there will be a reduction in rates,” he said. “If I look at across this country, the frustration, the movement of what we saw in these last campaigns, why? The middle class are worth less today than we were eight years ago. The number one thing we have to do is grow this economy.”