Patrick McHenry is a Republican Congress member who serves as the party’s chief deputy whip. Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill today, including Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur, he offered a defense of Obamacare that sounded like it could have come from a Democrat:
GOP chief deputy whip P. McHenry says unwinding pre-ex mandates won’t fly in House, evokes his own experience with insurer discrimination. pic.twitter.com/BwV85Y3u6H— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) April 5, 2017
This is a really surprising defense of the Affordable Care Act to read from a Republican member of Congress in the middle of the party’s repeal push. Just a few weeks ago, McHenry posted a quite different statement on his website to announce that House Republicans were beginning the Obamacare repeal process:
Obamacare was sold as a plan that would reduce costs and improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans. Here in western North Carolina it has done the opposite: canceling popular plans, driving up costs, and leaving my constituents worse off.
Today, the House made good on our commitment and passed a resolution that begins the process of repealing Obamacare. Now the hard work begins. Over the coming days and weeks, I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass bills that actually reduce costs and improve healthcare for all Americans.
McHenry is confronting a problem that many House Republicans are confronting right now: There are certain parts of Obamacare that people really like. Some of the things people like are insurance regulations — the regulation, for example, that bars insurers from charging higher premiums to sick enrollees.
It’s easy to denounce insurance regulation in the abstract as government red tape and burdensome. It was exceptionally easy to do this when President Barack Obama was still in office, and would be expected to veto any Republican attempts to dismantle the health law’s rules.
But now Republicans do have the power to repeal the insurance regulations they have complained about for years. And the reality of having to pick and choose which ones they like and which they don’t — which consumer protections are important and aren’t — is a whole lot harder.