Protests agains the current GOP health care bill (AP/Lynne Sladky)

Donald Trump, Republicans are ready to give up on Obamacare repeal

The reality that the GOP can't overturn Obamacare is beginning to set in


Matthew Sheffield
July 10, 2017 4:24PM (UTC)

Inside Congress and the White House, Republicans are beginning to admit that they're not likely to be able to pass even a pared-down repeal of the Affordable Care Act, despite months of trying. The conclusion is one that many Republicans in Washington have long privately realized but not publicly discussed much.

As the prospects for the Senate GOP's Better Care Reconciliation Act have continued to worsen, however, Republicans are openly discussing the idea that they may never be able to agree on a repeal of Obamcare. And it's an idea that even President Donald Trump is considering.

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Trump seemed to play good cop in a Monday morning tweet urging the congressional GOP to do something — anything, really — about health care.

Trump's statement comes after Congressional leaders had all but given up on the idea that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed and replaced — or even just repealed.

“Clearly, the draft plan is dead,"Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La, said on "Fox News Sunday." "Is the serious rewrite plan dead? I don't know." He added, "we don’t know what the plan is" in terms of what comes next for the Senate Republicans.

Cassidy's morbid terminology was echoed by Arizona Sen. John McCain as he pronounced the bill's prospects terminal during an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation."

"I think my view is it's probably going to be dead," McCain said.

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The Trump White House also appears to be coming to this realization as well. During a Sunday interview with ABC's "This Week," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin explicitly stated that the administration is getting ready to focus attention on something else.

"If we don't get this passed then the president as he said will go to the next plan," he told host George Stephanopoulos.

Mnuchin even appeared to endorse a proposed modification to the bill sponsored by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz that would allow insurance companies to offer plans for sale that are not compliant with Affordable Care Act regulations, provided they also offer at least one plan that is.

"I'm very hopeful that his plan and his changes will get supported. And I think we'd like to get health care done," Mnuchin said.

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Cruz's idea has come under criticism from more moderate Republicans because they believe it will lead to many companies pricing out older and sicker customers.

Should Republicans decide to punt on health care or work with Democrats (as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been repeatedly threatening his caucus), it may not matter much with their core base of voters.

In a poll released last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation, just 8 percent of self-identified Republicans said that repealing Obamacare should be elected officials' top priority. Support for the GOP health care bill had fallen to just 55 percent among Republicans in the survey.

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Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Bcra Bill Cassidy Health Care Healthcare John Mccain Mitch Mcconnell Obamacare

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