Republicans have been facing a sobering reality in recent weeks: What if the Supreme Court grants their wish later this month and guts ‘Obamacare’? They’d be blamed for throwing millions of people to the wolves and owning a wildly dysfunctional health care system — in an election year, no less.
The result has been an eye-opening series of private deliberations about what they’d do next, which has left key players in the party furtively pivoting from total opposition to expressing sympathy for some pieces of the law.
Republicans haven’t backed off their pledge to repeal it, but they’re creating some wiggle room to reinstate some of its popular provisions in a potential replacement plan.
Here are a few notable examples.
Rep. Allen West, THEN:
“Obamacare is unconstitutional, anti-constitutional and, most certainly, an awful piece of American policy. Let’s hope after next week’s Supreme Court decision it also becomes a short-lived piece of American history.” (Washington Times op-ed, 3/23/2012)
Rep. Allen West, NOW:
“You’ve got to replace it with something. If people want to keep their kid on insurance at 26, fine. We’ve got to make sure no American gets turned back for pre-existing conditions, that’s fine. Keep the doughnut hole closed, that’s fine. But what I just talked to you about — maybe 20, 25 pages of legislation.” (Videotaped interview, 5/28/2012)
Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair Roy Blunt, THEN:
“[I]t’s clear this burdensome and costly legislation is bad for families, seniors, and job creators in Missouri and nationwide. … I’m going to continue the fight to repeal and replace this disastrous bill with common-sense bipartisan reforms that put patients and doctors in control of their health care - not Washington bureaucrats.” (Video statement, 3/23/2012)
Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair Roy Blunt, NOW:
“It’s a way to get a significant number of the uninsured into an insurance group without much cost. [The under-26 provision is] one of the things I think should continue. I’ve been in a couple meetings lately and there’s some general understanding that that’s one of the things … and there are other things like that as well.” (Radio interview, 5/24/2012)
House GOP Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price, THEN:
“The entire government overhaul of America’s health care system — forced through Congress by the previous Democrat majority — is a threat to the quality, affordability, and accessibility of care in this country.” (Statement, 11/14/2011)
House GOP Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price, NOW:
“[T]here are some things that have been instituted that a lot of folks have begun to rely upon and plan — make their family plans — based upon. Twenty-six-year-olds being on their parents’ insurance is one of them. … So there are wonderful ways to solve this in addition to — or in place of — what the president’s bill did.” (Remarks to reporters, 6/05/2012)
Rep. Phil Roe, THEN:
“Repealing Obamacare will provide a clean slate, and give Congress the ability to pass sound health care legislation in a transparent and bipartisan manner. Obamacare fails to address the cost crisis in health care, and in fact, dramatically increases costs for all involved.” (Statement, 1/19/2011)
Rep. Phil Roe, NOW:
“It would be hard to write a 2,700-page bill and not have something in there that you like.” (Remarks to reporters, 6/05/2012)
Senate GOP Leadership Member John Barrasso, THEN:
“We’ve made it clear for over two years that the law is bad for patients, it’s bad for providers, the nurses and the doctors who take care of those patients and it’s terrible for taxpayers.” (Senate floor remarks, 5/23/2012)
Senate GOP Leadership Member John Barrasso, NOW:
“Well, [the under-26 policy is] something that I and other Republicans have supported from the beginning.” (Fox News appearance, 6/4/2012)
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.