- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2016

The mainstream media, eager to hold President-Elect Donald Trump’s feet to the fire when it comes to his campaign promises, is already calling a flip-flop on Obamacare.

“Trump Already Walking Back Promise to Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” the Daily Wire said three days ago.

“The quickest flip-flop in history: Trump wants to keep these two Obamacare provisions,” Fast Company wrote.

“Trump and advisers back off major campaign pledges, including Obamacare,” the Chicago Tribune said.

The headlines were spurred by an interview Mr. Trump gave to the Wall Street Journal, where he said he was open to preserving parts of Obamacare, including keeping the prohibition against insurers denying customers with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents insurance policies.

The fact of the matter is, Republicans have been saying this for a long time — the press just hasn’t given the GOP’s Obamacare alternatives much coverage — because under President Obama’s White House they could never come into fruition.

In June, the House Republicans unveiled their “Better Way” proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — and their effort included a guarantee that those with pre-existing conditions would not be turned away or dropped by insurance companies. It also would allow children to stay on their parents’ health care plans through age 26.

So basically, exactly what Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump also told the Wall Street Journal on Friday: “Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced,” giving some consternation that he added the word “amended” to his rhetoric — meaning he was softening his position.

But in reality, Obamacare is a messy law — one that will need a measured approach either in dismantling or replacing.

Republicans will also need Democratic buy-in into its alternative, so the majority of the country likes the reform. Mr. Obama made a drastic mistake by passing his health care bill without any GOP votes, and now he fully owns its failures. Republicans don’t want to be in the same position come 2020.

The GOP does, however, have the power to start dismantling the bill — and this may be their best approach. Through the budget-reconciliation process, the GOP could repeal Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and the payment of subsidies on the exchanges.

Still, compromises will need to be made — and congressional lawmakers know it.

When the 2010 Affordable Care Act was passed, it “literally wiped out all law,” relating to health care, making a total repeal of the law untenable without an immediate replacement, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions told the Atlantic in May.

So that month, he and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana proposed a bill that would allow people to leave the Obamacare exchanges and receive a $2,500 tax credit (plus $1,500 for each child) to purchase health insurance in the private market, or to put into a health-savings account. If one wanted to stay on the Obamacare exchange, they could — it would be optional. The bill would also gut Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.

The Sessions/Cassidy bill would be an “amend” option.

There’s others.

GOP Sens. Richard Burr, Orrin Hatch and Rep. Fred Upton offered up an Obamacare replacement plan in 2015 that would repeal the individual and employer mandate, expansion of Medicaid and scale back other Obamacare provisions like tax credits. But insurers would still be prevented from denying coverage to those with preexisting health problems and young adults could remain on their parents’ plans.

Rep. Tom Price, Sens. John McCain and David Perdue; Rep. Phil Roe and the Republican Study Committee; and Sen. Ben Sasse, among others, have all offered up replacement and/or modified ACA plans — so there’s plenty of ideas out there. The challenge for Mr. Trump will be to bring all these Republicans plans into a consensus.

But the idea, that Mr. Trump was somehow out of line or even abandoning conservative principles — by suggesting he’d like to keep the good parts of Obamacare, for those with pre-existing conditions and keeping kids on their parents plans — was blatantly misleading.

Republicans have a plethora of ideas to better health care and care about the average-man, their pocketbook and well-being. Despite what the mainstream media would like you to believe.

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