House Republicans are delaying the rollout of their alternative proposal to Obamacare, according to lawmakers and aides involved in the process.
The issue is one of “policy, trying to get it all together,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said when asked why a planned April unveiling was being pushed back.
The Republicans had said they would release the outlines of their proposal to replace President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law over the two-week congressional break later this month at town-hall meetings with constituents.
Instead, a Republican leadership aide said the rollout will occur at an unspecified time later this year. Republican leaders are set to meet this week to discuss their plans, McCarthy and Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers said.
House leaders want to keep a focus on Obamacare, which almost half of Americans oppose, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll last month, as an issue heading into the midterm congressional election in November. At the same time, presenting a legislative alternative would invite criticism from small-government Tea Party Republicans, especially of the measure’s potential cost, and from Democrats.
April wasn’t intended to be a formal rollout of a bill, rather a discussion about ideas, an aide said. Lawmakers are still working toward a policy consensus, the aide said.
The Post-ABC poll showed 49 percent of Americans back Obamacare and 48 percent oppose it. In November, 40 percent were for the law and 57 percent were against it.
“Our committee chairmen are working on the issues in terms of the kind of reform that we want; our whip as well as our conference chair are also working with members to make sure that we can coalesce around a real health-care reform,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters today.
Republicans have held more than 50 votes to repeal, defund or roll back the law since taking majority control of the U.S. House in 2011. While they’ve yet to present a unified plan to replace the law, several members have introduced legislation that leaders have said will guide their replacement plans.
McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking House Republican, said the combined Republican replacement plan will probably include an expansion of health-savings accounts while allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines.
The plan also would probably change health-care liability rules to reduce litigation and malpractice insurance costs for doctors and hospitals, she said last month in an interview with Bloomberg News editors and reporters in New York.