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Conservatives Are Quietly Giving Up on Repealing Obamacare

McMurry: Conservatives Are Quietly Giving Up on Repealing Obamacare

Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur finds an anonymous GOP aide to break down the problem Republicans have been having with finding an alternative to the Affordable Care Act:

“If you want to say the further and further this gets down the road, the harder and harder it gets to repeal, that’s absolutely true,” the aide said. “As far as repeal and replace goes, the problem with replace is that if you really want people to have these new benefits, it looks a hell of a lot like the Affordable Care Act. … To make something like that work, you have to move in the direction of the ACA. You have to have a participating mechanism, you have to have a mechanism to fund it, you have to have a mechanism to fix parts of the market.”

In other words, the alternative to Obamacare is Obamacare.

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This comes on the heels of several conservative commentators conceding that Obamacare’s attainment of the 7 million enrollee milestone meant that it was structurally viable. The law’s repeal was supposed to have been auto-induced after its public collapse; but if the ACA is self-sustaining, repeal becomes a quixotic charge to snatch health care from millions of people just as they’d finally gotten it. AEI’s James Pethokoukis rounds it up:

Even if Republicans gain control of the White House and Congress, there are limitations to what a GOP president would do. For instance, maybe President Rand Paul would decide to disallow the federal health exchange from paying premium credits to 10 million Americans. As Capretta puts it, “A reversal of this kind would be politically tumultuous, to put it mildly.” Adds Ponnuru: “It seems unlikely that Congress would pass legislation to strip coverage from millions of people.”

Pethokoukis cites Avik Roy, who compares the future of the health care battle to that over public education, in which its universality is never questioned, and reforms vie within its framework rather than against it. Roy’s own plan “works off the status quo,” Pehtokoukis notes, “rather than attempting to scrap the status quo.” That status quo, it now goes without saying, is Obamacare.

[Image via Jonathan Ernst / Reuters]

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