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Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said his fellow Republicans should repeal Obamacare before agreeing on a replacement, and dismissed concerns of a potential backlash when current beneficiaries lose coverage as a fictional “boogeyman” designed to scare lawmakers away from delivering on repeal.

Entering the new year, Republicans seemed to have had a clear strategy on Obamacare: pass a bill that repealed much of the law, while delaying its effective date for a few years to buy time to come up with a replacement. But a combination of mixed signals from the Trump administration and the blowback from the prospect of disrupting the insurance arrangements of millions of Obamacare beneficiaries has given many Republicans cold feet.

As fissures break out over the details of a replacement plan, conservatives such as Lee are pushing back, arguing that the baseline should be to pass the same repeal bill that Republicans already passed in 2015, which was then vetoed by former President Obama. The 2015 bill would have repealed the mandates, taxes, and major spending in Obamacare, and also denied federal funds to abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

“That’s the one that passed and because that one passed … I say bring that one forward,” Lee said during a Thursday discussion at the offices of the Washington Examiner. “Let’s vote on it. That’s the one we know can pass. We passed it in December 2015 and we did so with the understanding and also with subsequent promises that were made in the 2016 election cycle that this is what we’re doing now, this is what we will do when we’re given the chance to govern, if you give us majorities in both houses of Congress and give us the White House, this is what we’ll do. That was, I think, the understanding that a lot of people had and that a lot of members of Congress campaigned on so I think that’s what we ought to do.”

Lee argued that if Republicans don’t strike now, and instead get bogged down in a protracted fight over what would replace Obamacare, then repeal may never actually happen. When asked about Republican skittishness over political fallout from Obamacare beneficiaries losing coverage, Lee was dismissive.

“I think a lot of people who trot that boogeyman out are trying to do one of two things,” Lee said. “Either they want us to not repeal it at all, or they want us to not repeal it until such time as we have a single consensus piece to vote on, which may have the same effect as convincing us not to repeal at all. Because if we wait until there’s consensus on that prior to repeal, then I’m not sure we’re going to get there. We’ve got to keep the momentum going. One of the many problems with that boogeyman is that he’s not real. There’s a delayed implementation provision, a two-year fuse, so while that’s not an indefinite period of time that does give us something of a grace period in which we can operate and figure out what happen will next.”

A number of experts have noted that even if the implementation of repeal is deferred, the prospect of a disappearing Obamacare market may hasten the exodus of insurers from the program, thus accelerating the loss of coverage.

Asked about the insurers, Lee said, “They’ve got people who are insured with them right now who are paying premiums. Secondly, I don’t think it would be two years before we’d know what would come next. I think within a few months we would have a pretty good idea of what the post-Obamacare world would look like. In any event, the fact that insurers are going to endure some uncertainty is not a reason to not repeal.”

The repeal bill would have to be passed through the parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation, which would allow Republicans to be able to pass legislation with a simple majority, though it also carries limitations – primarily, that any changes have to be deemed to have a budgetary impact by the Senate parliamentarian.

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Given these limitations, the 2015 repeal bill did not get rid of Obamacare’s costly regulations, prompting a number of conservatives and libertarians to note that if it went into effect it would actually exacerbate the program’s problems. The reason is that insurers would still be required to cover those with pre-existing conditions and to limit how much more they can charge based on age and health status (all of which drive up premiums), but there would be no mandate or subsidies in place to help attract younger and healthier individuals into the market.

Lee said his first choice would be for the repeal bill to scrap the regulations too, because there’s a clear case that the regulations drive up federal spending. Under Obamacare, when premiums go up, subsidies to individuals rise, meaning that keeping the regulations in place, the government would be spending significantly more.

“If we can’t do that, if we instead decide to not puncture the shrink wrap around the 2015 bill and decide to just push that through, there’s still other ways to get there, for example in the next go around in connection with the next budget that gets passed in connection with reconciliation instructions that could enable us to reach back and get those regs, perhaps you’d get them at that state,” he said. “But they do have to be dealt with, and it would be ideal if we could with this bill.”

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