Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act may be off the table for now.
The GOP-controlled Congress has a wild card in its back pocket should it choose to push ACA-repealing legislation to President Barack Obama's desk. However, Obama would likely veto the maneuver, known as reconciliation, reported the Wall Street Journal. Ironically, Democrats last used reconciliation five years ago to pass the ACA.
House and Senate budget negotiators convene today to discuss combining their 2016 fiscal budgets. The ACA can be addressed under reconciliation because it relates directly to changes in spending, revenue or the federal debt limit. Each issues can be addressed just once under reconciliation per budget cycle.
However, Congress is divided on whether to use reconciliation to repeal the ACA or to discuss other budgetary goals. "I don't fall into the camp that thinks it's particularly helpful to send something up to be vetoed," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the House Budget Committee, told the WSJ, while Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) said, "Our plan is to use it to repeal Obamacare and I hope we stick to the plan."
A repeal of the ACA would not only jeopardize health insurance for nearly 16 million Americans; it would also present enormous political and practical challenges, according to the Los Angeles Times. For instance, Republican lawmakers don't have a plan in place should the Supreme Court strip away federal subsidies in King v. Burwell.
For the time being, Republicans appear to focus less on undoing the ACA and more on other legislative issues, such as proposing changes to the Medicaid and Medicare programs, noted the Times. Case in point: The latest GOP-issued ACA alternative, developed by Sen. Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.), Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), not only preserves the hotly debated employer-based system but also maintains many of the law's current provisions.