House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the House GOP leadership’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act during an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night.
Carlson said the introduction of the GOP plan, named the American Health Care Act, “looks like chaos.” Ryan took exception to the characterization.
“Well, actually, I don’t think it really is chaos,” Ryan said. “I heard what you said, but here’s what we did a year ago. A year ago, House Republicans said, ‘We need to take a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare to the country.’ We spent a year working on this plan.”
Republicans introduced the new AHCA late Monday and brought the bill to House committees on Wednesday. The Ways & Means Committee approved the bill on Thursday morning, and it is still being debated in the Energy & Commerce Committee. The moves come before the Congressional Budget Office has had the chance to score the bill to gauge its effects on the federal deficit and Americans’ health coverage.
Additionally, a number of conservative Republicans have spoken out against the bill, saying it does not go far enough in its repeal of Obamacare. On the other hand, moderate Republicans in the Senate have attacked the bill for changing federal funding to Medicaid, which has put the future of the AHCA in question.
Outside of lawmakers, a number of conservative-leaning groups like Heritage Action, the Cato Institute, and the Club for Growth have attacked the AHCA. Medical groups like the American Medical Association have also expressed opposition to the plan.
Even the insurance lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans — which represents major insurers like Anthem, Cigna, and Humana — has recommended changes to the law.
Ryan said most of these groups are against the bill because they don’t understand the technical proceedings of the replacement process. Since Democrats could block a bill that changes statutory parts of Obamacare using a filibuster, the GOP is using a narrow process called budget reconciliation that only requires a simply majority in the Senate.
“There’s three phases here, and that’s what a lot of outside groups and folks just don’t understand the fact that if we put everything in the bill we possibly want, we would have a filibuster, we wouldn’t be able pass it in the Senate,” Ryan said. “So this bill, which is the first phase of a three-phase plan, is what we can pass without a filibuster in a budget bill.”
Ryan went on to say that some members of Congress and interest groups didn’t understand the process and that the House GOP leadership is working to help everyone avoid confusion.
“And it’s that confusion that I think is running this issue,” Ryan said. “But the point here is we’re keeping our promises, we’re excited about this.”
In explaining the disagreements between GOP members over the bill, Ryan said it was a natural process of taking control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress.
“So, we are going through what I would call the sort of typical growing pains from being an opposition party fighting Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to a governing party,” Ryan said.
Watch the full interview from Fox News below:
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