- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday said the Trump administration is “putting the finishing touches” on the GOP’s plan to overhaul health care, projecting a sense of party unity even as conservatives balk at the emerging plan as “Obamacare lite.”

Speaking in Wisconsin, Mr. Pence said the draft plan is being finalize over the weekend so Republicans can start to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in “just a matter of days.”

“The Obamacare nightmare is about to end,” said Mr. Pence in an appearance with President Trump’s health secretary, Tom Price, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in Janesville.

Republicans are trying to repeal and replace as much of the Affordable Care Act as they can under a fast-track budget process that allows them to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

Yet conservatives who could sink the effort are demanding to see legislative text, as leaders push a three-week timetable to dispatch a bill to the Senate, where it must meet arcane budget rules and gather consensus among Republicans who hold a 52-seat majority.

A trio of Senate conservatives — Mr. Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — and vocal conservative groups have objected to the House GOP’s plan to provide refundable, age-based tax credits to people who purchase insurance on their own, while paying for it by taxing a portion of particularly generous employer-sponsored plans.

They’ve pushed a separate plan to let people deduct the cost of health insurance from the taxes they owe, rather than receiving a “new entitlement” from taxing others.

Yet House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has downplayed talk of rival plans. He said the draft plan being finalized received consensus support during the campaign, so it’s time to deliver.

The Energy and Commerce and tax-writing Ways and Means committees hope to begin marking up their legislation as soon as next week, though they haven’t committed to dates.

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