Replace, Repeal, Repair

Posted on February 5, 2017

This morning, on ABC’s “This Week” George Stephanopoulos asked Vice President Mike Pence this question:

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re just about out of time. I want to ask you about Obamacare. Senator Lamar Alexander?—?came out this week. He’s the chair of the health committee. And he says, “You have to start talking about repairing Obamacare, not replacing.” Here’s what he said exactly. He’s compared it to an old bridge. He said, “Don’t close it until the new one is complete. In the meantime, we repair it. No one is talking about repealing anything until there is a concrete alternative in place.” Does the president accept that?

I like the way Speaker Paul Ryan answered this question last week when he told Capitol Hill reporters: “Our job is to repair the American health-care system and rescue it from the collapse that it’s in. And the best way to repair a health-care system is to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s not an either/or.”

We will repair the damage that Obamacare has caused millions of Americans. We will do that by replacing Obamacare with better, lower-cost alternatives and repealing the parts of Obamacare that have caused the damage. While we will vote to repeal Obamacare this year, the repeal will take effect when concrete, practical alternatives are in place.

Tennessee’s state insurance commissioner has said Tennessee’s Obamacare exchange is “very near collapse.” Premiums are skyrocketing. In two-thirds of our counties, Tennesseans with an Obamacare subsidy have only one choice of an insurance company. Next year they may have no choices. An Obamacare subsidy could be like holding a bus ticket in a town with no buses running.

I think of Obamacare like a collapsing bridge. If your local bridge were “very near collapse,” the first thing you would do is send in a rescue crew to repair it temporarily so no one else is hurt. Then you would build a better bridge, or more accurately, many bridges, as states develop their own plans for providing access to truly affordable health care to replace the old bridge. Finally, as the new bridges are finished and safe to drive across, you would close the old bridge.

While Congress will vote to repeal and replace Obamacare this year, the repeal of Obamacare finally will become effective when our reforms are implemented and we have concrete, practical alternatives.

I believe this is what the President means when he says we will repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously and what Speaker Ryan means when he says we will repeal and replace Obamacare concurrently.