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Conservative Goals Could Stymie Some GOP Health Care Law Efforts

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Hatch has introduced bills to repeal the law’s individual mandate and the requirement that employers provide health insurance to employees.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence in any kind of repair work on this; it’s just that bad,” he said. “I really don’t think you can really repair it.” Hatch has introduced bills to repeal the law’s individual mandate (S 40) and the requirement that employers provide health insurance to employees (S 399).

This ethos leaves the future unclear for other Republican health care bills that would repeal less central parts of the law or merely make changes to it. Both Heritage Action and Club for Growth opposed the GOP leadership bill (HR 1549) that would have extended enrollment in the law’s high-risk insurance pools by transferring money away from its Prevention and Public Health Fund.

The groups said that amounted to fixing a problem with the law rather than tearing it down, and some conservative Republican members agreed. The bill may still come back to the House floor this month, but Holler said his group would not support it in its original form.

Bills that repeal individual provisions of the law may also have a more difficult time getting passed, especially if conservatives view them as removing the worst parts of the overhaul to leave a stronger overall product.

Despite bipartisan support in the House and Senate to repeal the law’s medical-device tax, the way forward on a bill to do that remains unclear.

One possible vehicle for repealing the tax would be in a comprehensive tax overhaul package. House Ways and Means spokeswoman Michelle N. Dimarob noted in an email that “everything is on the table, and the chairman has said he will absolutely repeal the Medical Device Tax in tax reform.”

That could be easier than moving the tax repeal bills (HR 523, S 232) as stand-alone pieces of the legislation. The other obstacle in passing individual repeal bills is that Republicans tend to offset their cost by taking money from other parts of the law — thus losing Democratic support.

Melissa Attias contributed to this report.

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