With unity elusive, GOP talks more of repairing health law

Published 9:11 am Friday, February 3, 2017

WASHINGTON — While insisting they’ve not abandoned their goal of repealing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, Republicans are increasingly talking about “repairing” it as they grapple with disunity, drooping momentum and uneasy voters.

The GOP triumphantly shoved a budget through Congress three weeks ago that gave committees until Jan. 27 to write bills dismantling the law and substituting a Republican plan. Everyone knew that deadline was soft, but now leaders are talking instead about moving initial legislation by early spring.

And as the party struggles to translate its long-time political mantra into legislation that can pass Congress, some Republicans have started using different language to describe the effort.

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“It’s repairing the damage Obamacare has caused. It’s more accurate” than repeal and replace, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate health committee. He notes that President Donald Trump and many Republicans want to keep popular pieces of the overhaul like requiring family policies to cover children up to age 26.

“It probably lessens people’s anxiety that we won’t pull the rug out from under them,” Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, who chairs a House health subcommittee, said of the term “repair.”