Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Monday introduced an amendment to extend the deadline for budget reconciliation instructions until March 3, 2017, and "ensure a responsible process for replacing President Obama’s health care law as quickly as possible."
Senator Corker said, “This week, Congress will pass the legislative tools necessary to initiate the repeal process and begin reversing the negative effects of the Affordable Care Act. But as President-elect Trump has stated, repeal and replace should take place simultaneously, and this amendment will give the incoming administration more time to outline its priorities after its chief health care official assumes office and fully reviews the tools currently at his disposal. By extending the deadline for budget reconciliation instructions until March, Congress and the incoming administration will each have additional time to get the policy right. Repealing President Obama’s health care law and replacing it with a responsible alternative is a top priority, and by exercising due diligence we can create a stable transition to an open health care marketplace that provides far greater choice and more affordable plans for the American people.”
Senator Portman said, “I support repealing ObamaCare and intend to again vote to do so. Congress also should thoughtfully consider how we replace ObamaCare, and we can do so by ensuring we go through the committee process. As we do so, we must ensure that Americans are able to retain their health care during the transition to a new system. This amendment will ensure that we move forward with a smart, responsible plan to replace the law as quickly as possible.”
Senator Collins said, “In an ideal situation, we would repeal and replace ObamaCare simultaneously, but we need to make sure that we have at least a detailed framework that tells the American people what direction we're headed. Repeal and replacement is a complicated task, and my number one concern is that we not create a gap in coverage for individuals who are currently insured and who rely on that coverage. By providing more time to come up with legislative solutions, we have a better opportunity to produce a thoughtful, workable replacement that ensures Americans have access to affordable, diverse insurance plans that meet their needs.”
Senator Cassidy said, “As Obamacare is repealed and replaced we must always keep in mind the mom with a breast lump who cannot afford Obamacare and wants something better but also needs to maintain her coverage. This amendment will ensure adequate time is given to repeal Obamacare AND replace it with a substantive alternative that will work for her.”
Senator Murkowski said, “I remain committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act, and I am equally committed to ensuring that all Alaskans and Americans, especially the most vulnerable among us and those in rural communities, have access to affordable, quality healthcare. With a new administration and a new Congress we have an opportunity to fulfill both of those commitments, but repeal and replace need to coincide – that’s simply common sense. That is why I’m proud to sign onto this amendment to give the committee process time to work, to allow stakeholders to share their solutions with us, and to ensure that our replacement legislation provides Americans with certainty, access, and truly affordable options for their healthcare needs.”
Title II of the 2017 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) instructs House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to report out legislation that would reduce the budget deficit by at least $1 billion each over the next ten years. The resulting reconciliation legislation is expected to include language to repeal the ACA and is due no later than January 27, 2017. If confirmed, President-elect Trump’s nominee to lead the Health and Human Services Administration, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), will not assume his post until January 20 at the earliest, a mere seven days before the deadline for reconciliation legislation. The amendment would extend this deadline until Friday, March 3, 2017, allowing the incoming secretary adequate time to review what the Trump administration can repeal and replace administratively versus legislatively, and ensure that Congress puts in place a responsible timeline for replacing the law.