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John Boehner: Obamacare repeal and replace “not going to happen”

US House Of Representatives Votes To Elect A New Speaker Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner isn’t optimistic about Republicans’ ability to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Here’s what he told a health care conference on Thursday morning, via Politico:

He said changes to former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement would likely be relatively modest.

“[Congressional Republicans are] going to fix Obamacare — I shouldn’t call it repeal-and-replace, because it’s not going to happen,” he said.

Boehner said the talk in November about lightning-fast passage a new health care framework was wildly optimistic.

“I started laughing,” he said. “Republicans never ever agree on health care.”

Boehner learned firsthand the difficulty of keeping the Republican caucus together during his tenure as House speaker, which ended in late 2015. And his comments come as congressional Republicans continue to struggle with the challenge of ending a program that covers 21 million Americans and standing up a new coverage expansion in its place. The Trump administration previously promised it would deliver its own plan, but members of Congress now say they do not expect a White House proposal.

Boehner also commented on the future of Medicaid expansion, which has become another thorny issue — especially in states that participate in the program and are run by Republican governors. Plans previously offered by current congressional leadership, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, would significantly cut funding for the program. But Boehner suggested that his party would not cut Medicaid expansion rolls significantly, according to an attendee at the speech.