On the final day of HIMSS 2017, Boehner bets against ACA repeal and replace

Count the former Republican Speaker of the House—who waged his own war against the Affordable Care Act during his time in office—among those who believe the healthcare law won’t be fully repealed.

During a keynote presentation at HIMSS 2017 in Orlando, Florida, former Ohio Representative John Boehner said he didn’t believe there would be a full repeal and replacement of the ACA, predicting that Republican lawmakers would make conservative changes to the existing law. In fact, Boehner said he laughed at the idea that Republicans in Congress could come up with a quick replacement plan.

Along with the policy predictions, Boehner and former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell also discussed the role of health information technology, which they said will continue to receive bipartisan support. 

"In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like. Not once,” Boehner said. “And all this happy talk that went on in November and December and January about repeal, repeal, repeal—yeah, we'll do replace, replace—I started laughing, because if you pass repeal without replace, first, anything that happens is your fault. You broke it.”

Boehner’s successor, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Vice President Mike Pence have promised to repeal the landmark legislation. Last week, House Republicans outlined a possible replacement plan, and on Thursday, Pence told the Conservative Political Action Conference that “Obamacare must go.”

Boehner Rendell argued over the how the ACA should be restructured, with Boehner advocating for giving states more flexibility when it comes to Medicaid coverage, and Rendell pushing for a public option on the exchange.

However, both former lawmakers agreed that health IT would be a critical and driving force to any healthcare policy changes moving forward. Despite the political landmines associated with healthcare legislation, health IT has always been a bipartisan issue, Boehner said. Meanwhile, Rendell called for more investment into laying the health IT groundwork that will improve quality and cost savings.

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“If we're going to have a true information-based healthcare system, using technology to its fullest extent, we have to pay to lay the infrastructure," he said, according to Health IT News. “States and the federal government ought to participate in that. Sometimes you spend money to save money.”