Following a decision by the Justice Department to no longer fight in court on behalf of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Donald Trump announced that he was teaming up with congressional Republicans to put forward a comprehensive replacement for what became best known as Obamacare. But Mitch McConnell apparently isn’t on board.
The Senate majority leader reportedly told the president in a phone call on Monday that the GOP-controlled Senate has no intentions of moving forward with health care legislation before the 2020 elections.
The Party of Great Health Care
McConnell’s move has been attributed as a political one by pundits, who said Republicans need to protect the vulnerable senators who are up for re-election in 2020. But the majority leader suggested to reporters on Tuesday that he’d be willing to make the push if Republicans gain control of the House.
“We had a good conversation yesterday afternoon, and I pointed out to him the Senate Republicans’ view on dealing with comprehensive health care reform with a Democratic House of Representatives,” McConnell said. “I made clear to him that we were not going to be doing that in the Senate.”
Trump echoed this sentiment in a series of tweets on Monday, writing:
The Republicans[…]are developing a really great [health care plan] with far lower premiums [and] deductibles than ObamaCare. In other words it will be far less expensive [and] much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate [and] win[…]back the House.
Trump went on to tout the plan as one that “will work for America” and cover pre-existing conditions.
“The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great [Health Care],” Trump wrote. “Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever [and] is respected again!”
Worth the wait
While the delay may be disappointing to those who want to see Obamacare repealed and replaced, Republicans are playing a strategic game against tricky opponents who are only digging themselves into a bigger health care hole.
Indeed, McConnell has reportedly told fellow Republicans that he would prefer they go on the offensive in 2020 against Democrats who are pushing a single-payer, government-run health care system like Medicare For All, rather than fend off Democratic assaults against a Republican-sponsored health care plan.
After the elections are over, as long as the dust settles on a Republican-controlled House, McConnell and the GOP can roll out a much more attractive health care plan that would appeal to more voters, increasing their chances of holding and expanding their control of Capitol Hill.
But while some have suggested that McConnell’s stance against an immediate Obamacare replacement indicates a rift among the GOP, President Trump has made it clear that he and McConnell are on the same page.
“I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election on the wonderful [health care] package that some very talented people are now developing for me [and] the Republican Party. It will be on full display during the election as a much better [and] less expensive alternative to Obamacare,” Trump tweeted, adding: “Republicans will always support pre-existing conditions!”
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