- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina pleaded with fellow Republicans on Thursday to keep their fight against Obamacare alive, saying it’s “naive” to think repeal of the mandate to hold insurance is good enough.

“If reports are accurate that the GOP leadership in Congress is giving up on the Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with a more efficient health care system, then we deserve to lose,” Mr. Graham said, responding to murmurs from the Republican retreat in West Virginia.

“Most Americans understand Obamacare is failing them and expect the Republican majority to do its best to replace this disaster,” he said.

Mr. Graham wants to revive his plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with block grants to the states.

He says the plan, co-authored with Sen. Bill Cassidy, Louisiana Republican, would level the playing field between states that embraced the 2010 reforms and those that resisted it, figuring Republicans would repeal and replace it eventually.

Senate GOP leaders pushed the block-grant plan last year, but couldn’t cobble together enough GOP votes under a fast-track budget process that shut out Democrats.

The GOP then lost a seat in Alabama, reducing its majority to just 51-to-49, so Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, says the path is even steeper.

Mr. Graham wants to try again anyway, saying talk of stabilizing Obamacare leaves the door open to liberal Democrats’ push for government-run, single-payer care.

“All Democrats reject replacement and will insist on continuing Obamacare through repairs. Virtually all Republicans believe Obamacare cannot be fixed and must be replaced,” he said. “I will not engage in a process that props up Obamacare because it cannot be repaired. It must be replaced.”

President Trump cheered Mr. Graham’s efforts last year and says he still wants to replace the law.

But he’s also treating the GOP tax bill’s repeal of the individual mandate, effective in 2019, as a major victory.

In a notable shift, Mr. Trump’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday did not include explicit calls to uproot Obamacare — a longstanding pledge for the GOP.

Instead, his administration is chipping away at the law through executive actions that would open the door to cheaper, slimmed-down plans for customers who couldn’t find affordable options under Obamacare.

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