This morning, Senator Ben Sasse sent a letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to push for a new strategy for reforming the health-care system established by the Affordable Care Act. In his letter, Sasse suggested that, if the divided Senate can’t reach an agreement on health care by the day after next week’s July 4 recess, the Republicans should fully repeal Obamacare through reconciliation and then spend August working on a separate replacement bill.
Sasse’s proposal comes just days after Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell decided not to bring the GOP bill to the floor for a procedural vote, despite his earlier insistence that he would do so. Several holdouts among both conservative and moderate Republican senators gave the impression that the bill would not pass through a procedural vote without further negotiation and compromise.
Today’s letter is Sasse’s first public statement about health-care reform since Senate leadership unveiled the bill last Friday. This letter illustrates that Sasse agrees with conservative senators who are committed to fully repealing Obamacare rather than tinkering around the edges of the law, as the draft bill would do.
“You campaigned and won on the repeal of Obamacare,” Sasse wrote to Trump. “So did every Republican senator. We should keep our word.”
“On the current path, it looks like Republicans will either fail to pass any meaningful bill at all, or will instead pass a bill that attempts to prop up much of the crumbling Obamacare structures,” he continued. “We can and must do better than either of these — both because the American people deserve better, and because we promised better.”
Trump appears to have agreed with Sasse’s suggestion, tweeting this morning, “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”
This latest statement from a hard-line conservative senator shows how difficult it will be for the Senate to pass any kind of reform bill, especially given that Democrats refuse to even consider changing Obamacare. Between conservatives such as Sasse, who want full repeal, and moderate Republicans, who oppose making substantial changes to the Obamacare system, it’s hard to imagine what a workable compromise might look like.