Obamacare repeal-replace effort begins to jell

Four replacement measures are under consideration.

Republicans on Capitol Hill and within the Trump administration are scrambling to get Obamacare repeal efforts back on track by stuffing as much of a replacement policy as possible into a repeal bill.

Four replacement measures are under consideration, with a goal of beginning work on the legislation in the relevant House committees by the end of February, according to congressional sources familiar with the tentative plans.

The GOP’s emerging blueprint would include expanding Health Savings Accounts, enacting high-risk health insurance pools, reforming Medicaid and authorizing tax credits to help Americans buy insurance policies.

After months of doubts and debate, the developments could win over wavering Republicans who’ve been insisting that repeal and replace be taken up simultaneously. Their ambivalence scuttled GOP expectations of making quick work of repeal. Now, they’re hoping to get the next key vote in March.

The replacement policies would be rolled into a measure repealing the 2010 health care law, which will be taken up and passed under an expedited process only requiring 51 votes for passage in the Senate. It’s still unclear whether the Senate parliamentarian will allow the replacement pieces to be inserted into the bill. But if she signs off, the policies could provide reassurance to GOP lawmakers eager to make good on longstanding vows to scrap the health law who want to vote on some replacement policy at the same time.

Vice President Mike Pence told House Republicans on Tuesday in a closed-door meeting that the administration is committed to repeal and that the bill can include much more policy than Republicans first thought, according to attendees.

The confirmation of HHS secretary designee Tom Price — expected to occur this week — could speed up the process as well. President Donald Trump has said his administration would release an Obamacare replacement plan as soon as Price is confirmed. In addition, Price is expected to release executive orders addressing aspects of the law soon after he is sworn in.

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