Last year and during the 2010 election cycle, House Republicans promised that their plan for health care was “repeal and replace” – they would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with new legislation. In fact, during 2011 they voted to repeal it several times, but they never quite got around to the “replace” portion of it. I thought that was all, but just last month Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee chair Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) revived “replace” talk, saying that Republicans would be ready to move on a bill after the Supreme Court acted.
It’s too early to judge that pledge, too, a failure (since of course the court hasn’t acted), but with Congress out this week it’s perhaps not too soon to check in and see what progress is being made. Pitts made his pledge on January 25. The next week, a news release from his subcommittee about the priorities for the year seemed to downgrade that a bit, saying only that they would “continue exploring alternatives,” but mentioned nothing about a bill, or a timetable, or even hearings.
And so far, if the subcommittee has been doing even that, it’s been below the radar. No hearings yet on developing a “replace” bill, no further news releases on the subject…again, granted, it’s only been four weeks, but of course that’s on top of a full year in 2011 with not a whisper of a new bill.
Nothing out of Ways and Means or out of Education and the Workforce, the other two committees with jurisdiction on health care, either.
Of course, the real story here is that it’s easy to talk about how they match all the good things that the Affordable Care Act is supposed to do without including any of the things they don’t like about it, but an actual bill, which would be scored by Congressional Budget Office and analyzed by policy experts, would almost certainly fall short. As would only talking about repeal. So don’t expect this bluff to end any time soon.