PHILADELPHIA – Interim House Budget Chair Diane Black (R-TN), who will play a key role in the process of repealing Obamacare, said that Republicans plan to begin marking up the legislation in committees within the next two weeks and that they’re aiming to have a repeal bill done in around a month.
“We expect that probably toward the latter part of February or the first part of March, that we should be ready to go with the final reconciliation,” Black said, referring to the process that GOP lawmakers can use to avoid a Democratic filibuster.
Following the model laid out in the budget resolution approved by Congress earlier this month, the legislation will be written in House Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce committees before the Budget Committee merges them and sends them to the floor. A similar process will happen in the Senate.
There has been disagreement among Republicans about how much of the replacement for Obamacare should be ready by the time it’s repealed.
Black pointed to the 2015 legislation that Congress passed but then-President Obama vetoed, while bringing up the limitations Republicans face using the process of reconciliation, which can only applied to legislation that affects the budget.
“I think that you can get a really good idea of what that might look like from what was done in 2015, and we’ll be adding additional pieces to that as much as we can put in there,” Black said. “So it will be a repeal with some replacement for what we are able to do, given the reconciliation process.”
As an example of what kind of replacement proposals would be in the repeal bill, Black suggested health care savings accounts, which would hold tax-free savings for people to use on medical expenses.
“That’s part of what this conference is about, for us to talk about all of those kinds of things that might be possible,” Black said.
Black dodged repeatedly on questions about whether the Republicans’ replacement will continue to cover those who gained insurance coverage under Obamacare.
“We are going to have a plan where we will open up the options and give people options that they don’t currently have,” Black said.