- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2017

Former House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that outright repeal of Obamacare is “not going to happen.”

The Ohio Republican, who left Congress in late 2015 amid friction with hardline conservatives, told an Orlando health conference that he started to laugh when Republicans promised swift moves to repeal and replace the massive law, according to a Politico report.

The notion that a replacement could breeze through Congress, he said, was “happy talk.”

“Republicans never ever agree on health care,” he was reported as saying.

Mr. Boehner’s blunt assessment comes as GOP lawmakers struggle to explain the path forward to angry liberal activists and constituents back home.

Republican leaders insist they are on track to repeal and replace as much of the Affordable Care Act as they can this spring under a fast-track budget procedure that allows them to bypass a Democratic filibuster.

The House GOP released an outline of its plans, which would replace Obamacare’s exchanges and income-based subsidies with tax credits based on age, so people who do not get insurance through a job or government insurance program have a shot at affording private coverage of their choosing.

It would allow people to pour more money in tax-advantaged savings accounts that can be used for medical expenses, while scaling down generous federal funding for states that opted to expand their Medicaid populations.

House conservatives are itching to scrap the health care law and treat all states the same under Medicaid, yet centrist Senate Republicans who represent expansion states will face pressure to keep generous federal funding that’s covered thousands, complicating the party’s plans.

President Trump has also raised expectations, promising a “new plan that’s going to be better health care for more people at a lesser cost.”

Conservatives say they’re up for the challenge, despite Mr. Boehner’s doubts.

“He accomplished nothing as speaker and now the Republicans have an opportunity to right the many wrongs of the Obama administration,” said Jenny Beth Martin, president and co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots. “John Boehner never had the stomach for that fight; President Trump does, which is why the American people elected him and have long since forgotten John Boehner.”

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