SIOUX CITY | For seven years, Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King sought to immediately repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The Republican congressman is now fine with a two-year timeframe in doing that, as majority party Republicans continue to fail to get on the same page to enact their own health care rewrite.
The Republican-controlled House passed a bill to repeal and replace the health care overhaul commonly known as Obamacare but the effort crumbled Tuesday in the Senate, where the GOP holds a slim two-vote majority. In an interview with the Journal, King said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't feel he had the needed 50 of 52 Republican senator votes to pass a modified repeal-and-replace measure.
As the machinations played out, McConnell's third and most recent plan was a bill to repeal the ACA, but there is no clear signs that will work either. King said "the votes are there in the Senate" for a repeal, if the senators get back to work.
Through a series of tweets and other statements, the position of Republican President Donald Trump since Monday shifted four times, from repeal and replace to outright repeal alone to let Obamacare fail and back to repeal and replace.
One option is a repeal with a two-year delay in the effective date, which King said is not ideal, but he can support it.
"If they send the repeal over here to the House, I would hope we could take that repeal up the same day and send it to the president...It is the right thing to do, under the political circumstances we have right now," King said.
With a two-year delayed enactment of repeal, King said lawmakers then could use the time to enact individual bills that deal with individual pieces of health reform. King said that could include his bill setting a limit of $250,000 on medical malpractice lawsuit plaintiff non-economic damages and the reimportation of less expensive prescription drugs from other nations.
"There are lots of these pieces that a lot of us wanted to do and our (House Republican) leadership wanted to package up into one big bill of repeal and replace. We can go down that path, of one component after another," King said.
He added that any such individual health pieces could be enacted with immediate effective dates or timed with a delay to match the two-year end of Obamacare.
Trump on Wednesday stepped up the pressure on reluctant Republicans to erase much of the Affordable Care Act, tweeting, "They MUST keep their promise to America" and vowing the measure would improve at his White House lunch with senators.