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Establishment Republicans Battle Themselves Over Obamacare

Establishment Republicans in the Senate have been waging a mighty battle against Obamacare. The problem is that the enemy is not the statist wreck that Obama and the Democrats forced upon a reluctant American people – the battle has been entirely with their fellow Republicans, and especially conservatives.

Already the usual suspects are predicting failure: "I think my view is it's probably going to be dead, but I've Grassley Tweetbeen wrong," Senator John McCain of Arizona said. "I thought I'd be president of the United States. But I think, I fear, that it's going to fail."

According to reporting by Business Insider’s Bob Bryan, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine received from praise from constituents for her strong stance against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Obamacare replacement bill, but some implored her to remain steadfast in her opposition during a July 4 parade in Eastport, Maine.

Brayan reports Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas also faced pressure to maintain his stance against the legislation during a town hall on Thursday. Typically, a safe bet to stick behind the GOP leadership, Moran repeatedly expressed his misgivings over the McConnell’s Better Care Reconciliation Act.

"The Affordable Care Act creates significant difficulties that still need major attention," Moran told reporters after the town hall. "But I think at this point, it's time to figure out how ... to get rid of the bad things and improve on the things that need to be improved."

Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada who is up for reelection in a state won by Hillary Clinton in the presidential election has also come out against the bill. He opposed the cuts to Medicaid and said the draft bill would not lower people's premiums.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia has also come out against BCRA. Business Insider’s Bob Bryan reports West Virginia has the largest population of Medicaid recipients, so Capito wants to secure more funding for the program. "As drafted, this bill will not ensure access to affordable healthcare in West Virginia, does not do enough to combat the opioid epidemic that is devastating my state, cuts traditional Medicaid too deeply, and harms rural healthcare providers," Capito said in a statement.

Notice that all of these establishment Republican opponents of McConnell’s bill have more or less the same complaint: BCRA cuts Medicaid and doesn’t lower premiums.

There is a solution to this problem – a plan that doesn’t cut Medicaid and will lower individual health insurance premiums – if establishment Republicans would only embrace it.

Principled limited government constitutional conservative Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have found a cure for the GOP’s legislative dysfunction on Obamacare.

Their Consumer Freedom Option could unite the Senate’s fractious GOP majority behind Obamacare repeal and replacement said our friend Deroy Murdock in a recent column for National Review.

“The Consumer Freedom Option simply says that if an insurance company sells in a given state a plan that is consistent with the Title I mandates,” Murdock reports that Cruz told Texas radio host Mark Davis, “that company can also sell any other insurance plan consumers desire.

“What this will allow is, okay, fine. You want to keep your mandates? Knock yourself out with your mandates,” Cruz continued according to Murdock’s reporting. “But, in addition to mandates, let’s let Texans buy the plans they want. Let’s let Texans buy the benefits they want, and let’s let them get lower prices, so that more families who are struggling can actually afford health insurance.”

“We’ve got to do something to reinject free-market forces into this environment,” Lee said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “If we can bring free-market forces to bear, we can bring down costs for middle Americans.”

Conservatives generally applauded the idea of presenting consumers with a private option.

“After almost a decade of promising to repeal Obamacare, it’s time for Republican senators to put their money where their mouths are and get it done,” said Club for Growth president David McIntosh. “At a bare minimum, Congress should not stand in the way of allowing Americans who want to opt out of Obamacare to do so. And that’s why it’s so important that the new Senate Obamacare-repeal bill include the Lee-Cruz Consumer Freedom Option, which would allow individuals to opt out of Obamacare’s costly regulations.”

Unfortunately for American consumers, and the political prospects of the Republican Party, the Cruz – Lee Consumer Freedom Option is facing a NIH problem – that’s not the National Institutes of Health, it’s “Not Invented Here” from McConnell’s office.

McConnell said last week during an event in Kentucky that if GOP senators fail to reach an agreement on a bill that can get 50 votes in the chamber, they would have to work with the other party on a way to stabilize the Obamacare insurance markets.

But how would McConnell know whether the Consumer Freedom Option can get 50 votes since it has never been presented to the Senate?

It’s pretty clear that the problem in the Senate Republican Conference is Mitch McConnell’s unwillingness to actually pursue conservative policy solutions to the health insurance cost and availability crisis brought on by Obamacare’s impossible mandates.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, who in meetings last week expressed misgivings about the current form of the BCRA, used Twitter to express displeasure with the current state of affairs in the healthcare debate.

"52 Republicazn [sic] senators shld be ashamed that we have not passed health reform by now WE WONT BE ASHAMED WE WILL GO FROM MAJORITY TO MINORITY," Grassley tweeted.

Senator Grassley got it exactly right in that tweet.

We urge CHQ readers to call Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Jerry Moran, Sen. Dean Heller and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (the Capitol Switchboard is 1-866-220-0044) to tell them you want a vote on the Consumer Freedom Option. Tell them it’s time for Senate Republicans to let the American people know whether they stand with consumers who want choice and freedom or with the Democrats and their abusive and intrusive Obamacare healthcare mandates.

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