Senate Republicans have started writing their Obamacare repeal bill — even though few decisions have been made about how to resolve the biggest policy disagreements.
Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi, whose committee oversees the budget process that the GOP is using to fast-track the repeal effort through the Senate, told POLITICO he’s starting to draft the legislation.
Reconciliation “is a Budget [Committee] function, but I’ve got a lot of help,” Enzi said.
The Wyoming Republican declined to reveal any specifics, saying that he wants to encourage collaboration. He’s working with Senate Republican leadership and the Finance and HELP committees, which oversee health policy.
The House passed its repeal bill earlier this month. The CBO on Wednesday projected it would result in 23 million more uninsured Americans over a decade and would cut the deficit by $119 billion.
Enzi said that enough decisions have been made “in some areas” of policy to start writing the bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been careful to prevent leaks, but major fault lines on policy still exist among GOP lawmakers. Those include how aggressively to control Medicaid spending, when to begin rolling back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which Obamacare provisions to eliminate and how to control premiums or address coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
Enzi also declined to discuss a timetable. But when asked if he’d have something to show colleagues after the Memorial Day week recess, he responded, “I hope so.”
“I’m not putting any deadlines on any of this because you have to work through a lot of people on these things,” Enzi said.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said leadership has spent significant time gathering a variety of opinions and that it is time to write a bill.
“Leadership is going to spend this recess trying to develop a product [so] that we will have a base of a Senate bill, based on all these discussions, based on what the House did, based on the CBO score,” Johnson said. “I’m happy to let the leadership craft a bill so that we can use that as the next step. When we come back, hopefully we have something to look at and we’ll continue the debate.”