Almost fifteen months ago, the new Republican majority in the House passed a go-nowhere repeal of the health law and promised to begin work on a replacement, which would entail holding “hearings in Washington and around the country” to draft a Republican version of health care reform. This hasn’t happened.
Several months ago, a key GOP subcommittee chair pledged that Republicans would be rolling out their replacement ideas over the next few months in preparation for the introduction of a bill later this spring. This hasn’t happened, either.
Which raises a question: Will Republicans really have the chutzpah to run on “repeal and replace” for a second consecutive Congressional election cycle after doing absolutely nothing about the “replace” part for two years?
The most recent promise of a “replace” plan was made back in January by Rep. Joe Pitts, chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, back in January. Since then? His subcommittee has held a hearing on generic drugs, one on traumatic brain injury, and even one on the “Current State of Cosmetics.” I’m sure those were all important. But replacing the health law? No, somehow that seems to have slipped off the agenda again.
The truth is that “replace” has always been a fraud, cooked up presumably because a flat-out repeal of health care reform polls much worse than replacing it with some unspecified legislation which would presumably contain all of the popular items in the health lawwithout any of the costs. Since such a bill is impossible, however, the timeline for when the bill will be developed keeps slipping into the unspecified future.
Sometimes Republicans admit that they really have no intention of passing a serious bill to replace the health law if they get the votes need to repeal it or if the Supreme Court tosses it out, as Mitch McConnell did last week. But for the most part, “replace” is still their official policy.
As Greg has been noting, if the Supreme Court really does toss out health care reform in June, this is no longer going to be just a symbolic question; Republicans would get their way on the repeal of Obama’s signature domestic reform. If that happens, maybe everybody will then realize that the vow to “replace” health reform has always been a fraud.