Obamacare repeal efforts, Medicare privatization support waning

House Republicans have already voted more than 50 times to defund, alter or overturn the healthcare law
House Republicans have already voted more than 50 times to defund, alter or overturn the healthcare law

While a series of successive defeats may have tempered the resolve of many Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a small group of conservatives is pushing a new approach to fast track such efforts. And with a presidential election less than 18 months away, Republicans are reportedly losing their appetite to join Paul Ryan's (R-WI) call to privatize Medicare.

House Republicans have already voted more than 50 times to defund, alter or overturn the healthcare law, Politico reported Monday. The prevailing efforts now seem to be focused on using reconciliation, which the Senate uses to fast track legislation with a simple majority rather than 60 votes. The rarely used but highly effective tactic could have a better chance of success, as could Congress' first full budget in six years, if the GOP withdraws its support for Ryan's signature plan, according to an April 24 Reuters report.

Ryan's blueprint would convert the current Medicare program into a system of subsidies, or vouchers, for seniors “to buy coverage from private insurers or a scaled-back Medicare starting in 2024,” the report noted.

Some things could put the current Obamacare repeal zeal to rest. One of them would be a decision for plaintiffs in the King v. Burwell case in front of the Supreme Court, which would nullify the subsidies about 9 million Americans are getting from enrolling for health insurance through Healthcare.Gov, according to recent reports. At the worst, the decision could be fatal for the healthcare program and at the least, could force President Obama's hand at compromising on other things, according to published reports.

Other proposals that have been considered include one that would replace the Obamacare subsidies with so-called “refundable tax credits” and another that would preserve the current taxpayer subsidies through late 2017, but repeal the current law's individual and employer mandates, Reuters reported.

On Capitol Hill, there's an inclination among many Republican lawmakers to tackle smaller, yet still critical issues to notch important victories while preserving support from their base, political observers have noted. As McKnight's earlier reported, House and Senate lawmakers appear ready to try to slash away at a number of healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.