News & Politics

House Majority Leader: Repeal and (Semi) Replace Bill Will Reach Trump's Desk by End of February

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, before a meeting. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

During his press conference in New York Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act “essentially simultaneously” shortly after his pick for secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, is confirmed.

But it’s not clear that a replacement will be ready that quickly.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said today in a radio interview that a replacement is still a work in progress because Congress is focused on “getting it right.” He did tell conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in that interview that a repeal and replace bill would be on the president’s desk by the end of February.

In a preceding interview, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady told Hewitt that the bill will be “dedicated to repealing this entitlement, as much of it that the reconciliation budget process allows us to do.” But he also said that Republicans would not act like Democrats and pass “a 2,000 page bill” that no one has been able vet entirely. “We are doing just the opposite,” he said. “Our replace is going to be step by step, thoughtful and understandable.”

Hewitt asked McCarthy if he thought a repeal and replace bill would soon be on Trump’s desk, including a repeal of the medical device tax, and tax penalty for people who don’t buy from the ObamaCare exchange.

“I agree with that,” McCarthy answered. “And you’ll see the beginning of that movement on that by passing of the 2017 budget this Friday.”

Hewitt said that Congressman Kevin Brady had told him during the earlier interview not to expect the corporate rate deduction to be in that bill, saying it would be part of a tax overhaul bill that will be passed as part of a reconciliation package requiring only a 51-vote margin in the Senate. He asked McCarthy if that would indeed be the case, and McCarthy agreed that it would.

“There’s three pillars of what has to happen here,” the majority leader said. “One happens to be dealing with healthcare, second has to be with tax reform, and third is with regulatory reform.”

He continued: “Now, we’re already starting with regulatory reforms if you watch what we passed last week with the REINS Act, the midnight rule, and this week with the Accountability Act.”

McCarthy said that starting in the first two weeks of February they would begin working on repealing a lot of Obama’s regulations from the past 60 legislative days.

“People don’t quite realize,” McCarthy pointed out, “since the November election to January 5th this administration, Obama, have authored 145 new regulations, enacted more than 16 billion on us just since the election.”

Obamacare, McCarthy said, “is totally collapsing upon itself.” He said that Congress needs the new administration in place with Tom Price as HHS secretary before they begin crafting a new healthcare bill.

McCarthy said he sent letters to all the governors and insurance commissioners in December asking them to give the new administration ideas.

“We want a healthcare system that goes across state lines, gives people greater choice,” he said.

But McCarthy said he didn’t want to lock in a time frame for replacement.

Pressed by Hewitt, he did say that at least part of a replacement would be included in the bill that would reach Trump’s desk at the end of February.