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Paul Albaugh / November 15, 2016

Will Trump Repeal, Replace or Amend ObamaCare?

Voters have given the GOP some latitude.

Most conservatives remain relieved this week after Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton last Tuesday. But much remains unknown about what Trump will try to do. He has laid out an agenda for his first 100 days in office and one of the first things on his agenda is repealing the atrocious monstrosity of ObamaCare.

Conservatives would love for Trump to push for a full repeal of the grossly misnamed “Affordable Care Act.” Despite an overwhelming majority of Americans loathing ObamaCare, it’s Obama’s signature accomplishment in his agenda to fundamentally transform America. Democrats in Congress have defended ObamaCare on every occasion and have all but declared war to preserve it — even though it cost them dearly in this election (not to mention 2010 and 2014).

Conservatives should fight back.

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton promised to keep and expand ObamaCare. Trump, on the other hand, promised to move “very, very quickly” on repealing ObamaCare. Republicans in Congress made dozens of moves during Obama’s tenure to push for repeal or for reforming the health care law but only one of those measures made it to Obama’s desk, where, of course, he vetoed it.

Trump’s own health care plan, which he put out during his campaign, is quite reasonable. It calls for the complete repeal of ObamaCare, allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines, scrapping the individual mandate, implementing tax deductions for purchasing health insurance, and encouraging people who are healthy to put money into Health Savings Accounts. His plan also calls for Medicaid block-grants for the States and removing regulatory barriers for drug providers to enter the free market.

During an interview with The Wall Street Journal — on the heels of his White House meeting with Obama — Trump’s tone changed slightly and there is indication that he is open for compromise instead of full repeal of ObamaCare. Specifically, Trump indicated there are two particular provisions in the law that he’s willing to keep. In the Journal’s phrasing, he “said he favors keeping the prohibition against insurers denying coverage because of patients’ existing conditions, and a provision that allows parents to provide years of additional coverage for children on their insurance policies.” He also stated, “Either ObamaCare will be repealed, replaced or amended.” Those may not be the exact words conservatives want to hear, but Trump has signaled that he’s willing to work with Republicans in Congress.

And by all indications, the Republican-led Congress is ready to get to work on dismantling ObamaCare. House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a press conference, “This Congress, this House majority, this Senate majority has already demonstrated and proven we’re able to pass legislation and put it on the president’s desk.” Ryan added, “Problem is, President Obama vetoed it. Now, we have a President Trump who has promised to fix this.”

Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed similar sentiments and stated that ObamaCare’s repeal is a priority for the GOP-led Senate. “It’s pretty high on our agenda as you know,” he said. “I would be shocked if we didn’t move forward and keep our commitment to the American people.”

The bill that was sent to Obama called for the repeal of the individual and employer mandates, Medicaid expansion, tax credits, medical device tax and Cadillac tax. In addition, it stripped the government of its authority to run the exchanges set up under the law and eliminated the fine for failing to comply with the mandates. Let’s see if Republicans can at least duplicate that effort.

Aside from Congress, Seth Chandler a visiting scholar at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and professor at the University of Houston Law Center, says there are several things Trump can do immediately to start the repeal of ObamaCare. The first thing is to end cost-sharing reductions, which are payments the federal government makes to insurance companies that provide silver-level plans to consumers. Trump could also begin the rule-making process to roll back regulations implemented under ObamaCare, which include the contraception mandate and the essential benefits requirement.

Regardless of what takes place in the coming months, any steps to repeal and replace ObamaCare will be steps in the right direction. It will take time. But under a Trump presidency we must demand a significant shift away from the current health care disaster that we experienced under Obama.

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