- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2015

Leaders of the new Republican-majority Congress struggled to outline a GOP replacement to Obamacare late Sunday, even as they vowed to hold repeal votes and bemoaned President Obama’s veto power through 2016.

House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky used the national spotlight on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to blast the Affordable Care Act as intrusive and limited in its efficacy. For one thing, it will still leave millions of Americans uninsured.

“If we had the ability to do it, we ought to pull it out root and branch and start over,” Mr. McConnell said, vowing to hold repeal votes in his chamber. “The chances of that happening with Barack Obama of ‘Obamacare’ in the White House are slim, but we’re going to make the effort.”

But it’s unclear how the party will handle the second part of its “repeal and replace” strategy. Members have floated blueprints for years, but the party has not coalesced behind an alternative and put it on the floor.

The GOP might use budget reconciliation, a powerful but tricky tool that can overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, to take a swipe at Obamacare, but some members want to use it for tax reform instead, and the president still wields a veto.

Other lawmakers want to be ready in case the Supreme Court, in a high-stakes ruling due by June, invalidates Obamacare’s subsidies in two-thirds of the states.

“We have a lot of divergent views about how to best go back to the doctor-patient relationship that’s revered,” Mr. Boehner told “60 Minutes.”

The speaker said states should have more control over coverage requirements, and that customers should be able to shop beyond their own states.

Mr. McConnell also rebutted claims that Obamacare has been a success in his home state, arguing many enrollees took up government-funded Medicaid coverage.

“It’s not surprising that if the government is offering you a free health insurance policy, you’re likely to take it,” Mr. McConnell said.

He said people who signed up for private coverage on the exchanges are paying more for less.

“When you look at Obamacare, it’s a perfect example of what Washington does,” Mr. Boehner said. “It’s a one-size-fits-all approach for the whole country all driven by Washington bureaucrats.”

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