Thursday, March 23, 2017
Here’s how 51 senators can reduce premiums: The secret to repealing ObamaCare’s regulations through reconciliation is buried in the Ryan bill.
As this week’s jousting between Speaker Paul Ryan and the Freedom Caucus makes clear, the Republican Party’s conservative and pragmatic wings don’t always agree. But there’s consensus on this: The American Health Care Act, the GOP’s bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, doesn’t do enough to make insurance more affordable.
Here’s how Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Mark Meadows put it last week in this newspaper’s online edition: “First, we must lower insurance premiums. Nothing matters more. The current House bill would not achieve this, because it doesn’t repeal all of ObamaCare’s insurance mandates.”
The trouble is the Senate’s rules. Republican leaders are counting on passing the AHCA through the budget reconciliation process, which requires only 51 votes, bypassing a filibuster. But for a bill to go through reconciliation, every provision must be budget-related, with clear relevance to either taxing or spending. GOP leaders expect the Senate parliamentarian to rule that repealing ObamaCare’s regulations through the AHCA would have only incidental fiscal consequences.