Politics

Ted Cruz Wants to Repeal Obamacare Now, Then Work Out Replacement Details

Texas Republican says they must 'honor the promise we've made to voters for six years running now'

Sen. Ted Cruz wants quick action on the Obamacare repeal bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even no with no consensus replacement for Obamacare in sight, Sen. Ted Cruz is pushing for action on the repeal long promised by Republicans.

“What I think is critical at the outset is that we honor the promise we've made to voters for six years running now to repeal Obamacare. We've had three elections — 2010, 2014 and 2016 — that were referenda on repealing Obamacare, and we need to honor that promise,” Cruz said. “Once Obamacare’s repealed, then we need common sense health care reform that expands choices, that lowers prices, and empowers patients to make their own health care decisions."

Cruz, a 2016 presidential hopeful who has been speaking positively about President Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks, made the remarks to reporters after GOP senators huddled over lunch with new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

By most accounts, the session with Price was short on particulars for what needs to be done legislatively to unwind the Affordable Care Act and build up the replacement health insurance system.

There was discussion about efforts undertaken by HHS to stabilize the insurance markets, but it did not seem to senators in attendance like Price was going to be sending over a ready-to-go legislative proposal. GOP lawmakers had said they were waiting for Price to be confirmed to really get going on crafting the Obamacare replacement.

Cruz made his own comment after being asked about the possibility that health care legislation could keep in place some tax credits or other subsidies enacted by the Democrats as part of the Obama-era health care overhaul.

“I think that debate will be ongoing for some time,” Cruz said of the way forward on replacement tax provisions. Many other Republican lawmakers have called for simultaneous repeal and replacement.

Cruz praised the experience and background of Price, the former House Budget chairman. Health and Human Services is expected to do as much as possible to ease the regulatory regime under the health care overhaul. He also said that the Trump administration was really only about three weeks in, so there should be some patience.

“Secretary Price was just confirmed very, very recently. It is unfortunate that Senate Democrats are engaged in blanket obstructionism,” Cruz said. He added that it “has slowed down the ability for the administration’s team to be put in place, to begin implementing positive reform ideas to empower patients.”

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