Heritage Pushes for Broader ACA Repeal Than Last Year; Cornyn Says It Will Be ‘Very Similar’

December 6, 2016 at 12:57 pm ET

Heritage Action is pushing Republicans to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act and not stop at the reconciliation bill passed last year, which would have left some vital pieces of the law intact, such as the requirement that all people buy health insurance.

The conservative group, which is linked to the Heritage Foundation, released a memo Monday calling last year’s repeal effort “a floor, not a ceiling” for what a Republican Congress can do. The paper says it’s critical Republicans repeal all insurance mandates in the coming reconciliation package, including those that didn’t make it into the version that was ultimately vetoed by President Obama.

But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, warned not to expect a reconciliation bill to differ much from what was passed a year ago.

“It will be very similar to what we passed last year,” he told Morning Consult on Monday, when asked about whether the reconciliation package could be broader to include repealing the mandates.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who chairs the Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over some parts of Obamacare, said he didn’t know whether a repeal package could go further than what was approved last year.

Heritage Action argues that the insurance requirements are “crippling the health care market.” The report also wants to see the Senate parliamentarian rule on whether the insurance mandates are relevant and can be included in the arcane reconciliation process.

“The Senate Parliamentarian traditionally plays a large role in interpreting the parameters the reconciliation rules and procedures,” Heritage says. “She may require persuasion that repealing the insurance mandates do, in fact, serve a budgetary purpose and are therefore eligible for reconciliation.”

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told reporters Tuesday he’s been talking with the Senate Parliamentarian for a year about what a reconciliation package to repeal the law could like, but wouldn’t say whether a new package could go further than last year’s.

Last year’s package would have repealed the law’s premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies. It also would have repealed the penalties consumers face for not having insurance, but not the mandate itself, as well as several taxes linked to the law.

Republicans have also suggested Heritage’s timeline requests to repeal the law on the day President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated won’t be met. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy this week declined to give a date for when a repeal vote may happen, but said, “very soon.”

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