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Republicans Push ‘Repeal and Replace’ Strategy

GOP leaders repeatedly emphasized in the days after Obama signed health care reform into law that their primary focus in the coming months will be economic recovery and job creation. Most public opinion polls have shown this issue to rank far ahead of health care in terms of importance to the electorate.

But with Democrats and Obama campaigning hard to sell a skeptical public on the overhaul, health care is likely to remain near the forefront of discussion. Accordingly, Republicans are moving to harness the anger that the law has generated among the GOP base, while still appealing to independent voters who are more receptive to discussing practical health care solutions.

“Rather than sort of be a dog with a bone and want to continue to gnaw on the bone, I think we need to make it relevant to what people care about, which is jobs,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), who is hoping to win races this fall in states as politically diverse as Arkansas and Illinois.

A strategy memorandum prepared for Senate Republicans to use during the two-week spring recess shed some light on what “repeal and replace” could mean to the GOP in terms of policy. Some of the provisions of the law that Republicans would target for repeal: “Medicare cuts; Tax hikes; Mandates; Sweetheart deals.” Some of the policies that they would look to implement as replacements: “Small business health plans; purchase across state lines; limit junk lawsuits; state incentives to lower costs.”

The recess strategy sheet also suggests Republicans have no intention of doing away with the new law’s popular provisions, including prohibiting insurance companies from refusing coverage based on a pre-existing medical condition, prohibiting insurers from capping coverage and requiring that insurers allow dependent children to stay on their parents’ policy until age 26.

But Republicans said the changes that they want to make will languish if they don’t win more seats.

“I don’t think anybody in America believes that under the current makeup you’re going to repeal anything,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is up for re-election. “That’s why I think the repeal is the Member of Congress that voted for it.”

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