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GOP Mulls Health Care Tacks

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price said the transition needs to be a smooth one if the health care law is overturned.

With rumors swirling that the Supreme Court could issue a ruling as soon as next week on President Barack Obama’s health care law, Republicans, along with Mitt Romney’s campaign, are gaming out their plans in case the entire law, or part of it, is found unconstitutional.

While nothing is certain until the justices release their decision, the implications are undeniable: No matter which way the court decides, it is sure to unleash a firestorm of political posturing and punditry that will propel the somewhat dormant issue of health care forcefully back into the election year messaging fray.

From House Republicans’ perspective, the first step is clear: If the law is upheld fully or even partially, GOP leaders plan to pass a full repeal.

“We are, I think, united that if there is not a full overturn of the law, that we will put a repeal measure on the floor to totally repeal Obamacare,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters today.

Beyond that, however, the road becomes more convoluted for a party that has for years promised to not only do away with Obama’s key policy victory, but also to replace it.

Republican leaders have begun speaking with their Members about their options. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) met this evening with members of the GOP Doctors Caucus, made up of former physicians, nurses and hospital administrators. A source in the meeting said lawmakers met “to walk through potential Supreme Court outcomes and Congressional responses. ... The goal of the meeting is to inform our members of the conversations at the highest levels regarding how to react in the aftermath of each potential SCOTUS decision outcome and get their feedback on the process.”

The source said staff for Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) updated lawmakers on how House Republicans will coordinate their response with the campaign of Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

The source said that regardless of how the court rules, “Republicans will avoid the Democrats’ mistakes. We won’t rush to pass a massive bill the American people don’t support. ... There are dozens of bills put forward before and after the passage of Obamacare, which Members can point to as our ideas once we have willing partners in reform in the Senate and White House.”

After getting feedback from Members with medical backgrounds, the source said McCarthy will have more listening sessions with the Conference at large.

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