MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy says it’s time that moderate Republicans and conservatives “sheath their swords” and get behind legislation that will get rid of Obamacare.
The Wausau Republican said the internal battle between Republican leadership and fiscal hawks needs to end and congressional opponents need to roll up their sleeves and do what’s right.
“Let’s start to work together to acknowledge that Obamacare is bad for America, bad for health care, it’s bad for our budget, it’s bad for Wisconsin, and it’s bad for American citizens who need coverage and it has to be replaced,” Duffy told Wisconsin Watchdog Thursday on the Mark Belling Show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN in Milwaukee.
Without doubt, Duffy said, the American Health Care Act pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, can and should be improved. But that can be done through amendment, he said, something the congressman supports.
He dismisses criticism from some conservatives that the replacement plan is “Obamacare Lite” or “Obamacare 2.0.”
“The fact is that we’re repealing virtually all of the mandates that can be repealed within the structure of this bill, through reconciliation, with only 51 votes in the Senate and repealing all the taxes in Obamacare,” Duffy said.
The bill repeals the most significant portions of former President Barack Obama’s divisive 2010 law. It provides tax credits for health insurance, places limits on Medicaid spending, and reverses tax hikes on wealthy Americans — revenue drawn to prop up the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare.
Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus can’t stomach the wider advanced tax credits and some of the other measures in a bill they say doesn’t even live up to the legislation they last sent to Obama. Obama rejected that effort to repeal his namesake law.
On Friday, President Donald Trump sounded optimistic that a deal could be in the offing. He claimed conservative opponents of the bill have come to terms, thanks to unspecified “changes.”
“We are doing some incredible things,” Trump said during a meeting with a conservative Republican committee. “All of these nos, or potential nos, are all yeses. Every single person sitting in this room is now a yes.”
The president said he is “100 percent behind the bill.”
Fox News reported that GOP leaders are hoping to pass the proposal in the House next week, following narrow approval by the budget committee on Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, cast a vote to advance the American Health Care Act. He said he did so with the understanding that changes would be made before it comes to the House floor.
“Since the start of this Congress, Republicans’ first and foremost priority has been to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said in a statement. “The American Health Care Act works towards providing relief for American families who have been saddled with skyrocketing health care costs.”
“I believe many of my concerns will be addressed by the time the AHCA reaches the House floor, and I am sure it will be a viable solution to ensure affordable and accessible health care coverage for Americans.”
Duffy defended the tax credit provision, asserting the bill would end the kind of restrictions in the Obamacare marketplaces that mandate “the kind of insurance you have to buy.”
“We’re walking away from that kind of government-mandated structure,” the congressman said. “Yeah, we’re helping some poor people buy insurance with a refundable tax credit, but we’re allowing them to go into the market and buy a plan that works for them and their family and the risks they face in their life. (We’re) giving freedom to choose to people.”
M.D. Kittle is bureau chief for Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment reporter for Watchdog.org. Contact him at [email protected]