Mitch McConnell Vows New GOP Health Plan Soon

Senate majority leader said new insurance system would follow an ACA repeal vote

The Wall Street Journal
By Ian Talley
Updated Jan. 8, 2017 4:19 p.m. ET

Congress will quickly devise a new health-insurance system after moving to repeal the Obama administration’s signature health-care law in coming days, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday, despite growing questions within the Republican Party over the GOP’s strategy.

“We will be replacing it rapidly after repealing it,” the Kentucky Republican said Sunday on CBS. He wasn’t specific about exact timing of the drafting of a new health-care system, but said: “There ought not to be a great gap between the first step and the second.”

He said the Senate would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act by the end of the week, with the House moving shortly after.

Republicans in both the House and Senate are expressing growing skepticism of their party’s approach to repealing the health-care law, with some questioning the wisdom of scrapping the law without knowing how they would replace it with a new system. That signals potential peril ahead for a strategy that relies on nearly complete GOP unity.

Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), who has opposed a budget blueprint that the GOP is using to repeal the health law, Friday said President-elect Donald Trump backs his proposal to not vote to repeal the law until lawmakers have a replacement in hand.

But Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee who is Mr. Trump’s incoming chief of staff, said that while launching a new health plan immediately after annulling the ACA might be ideal, in practice, that strategy wouldn’t likely work.

“It may take time to get all the elements of the replacement in place,” Mr. Priebus said on CBS. Some parts of any GOP health legislation may take a simple majority, making it an easy pass in Congress, he said. But other pieces, such as allowing people and companies in one state to buy coverage from an insurer in another, could face a tougher vote count.

“So the full replacement may take more time than an instantaneous action,” Mr. Priebus said.