Republicans may speed up parts of Obamacare replacement

Posted at 7:17 PM, Jan 09, 2017

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Republican leaders, under growing criticism for not having their own alternative to Obamacare, are actively exploring moving more quickly to replace key elements of the law earlier in the year.

They are looking at folding some new health care provisions as part of the bill to repeal Obamacare, a proposal that Congress could enact as soon as this month, according to senior GOP aides and a top party leader. It's unclear what new provisions -- if any -- the GOP will ultimately include in the repeal bill.

But the fact that they are now actively discussing this idea is an implicit recognition that they need to move more quickly to replace at least aspects of a law they are determined to repeal immediately.

"We're looking at trying to find some way to do that," said Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican leader, when asked about adding new provisions in the repeal bill. "We're looking to do as much as we can do in the (repeal) bill."

Cornyn would not specify which provisions of the law could be replaced immediately, largely because it depends on what would be allowed under Senate budget rules. To repeal the law, Congress plans to move first on a budget resolution that will pass as soon as this week.

After the resolution passes, Congress must pass a separate budget bill to repeal major aspects of the law -- something that cannot be filibustered by Democrats under the rules of the Senate. It's uncertain what elements of the law the GOP will initially target. Republicans had been discussing using the next two years to replace Obamacare, an idea that has been increasingly criticized by members of their own party.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee warned Republicans Monday it would be "problematic," "not very appealing" and "doesn't seem very intelligent" to repeal the law without a replacement.

"To me, it's much more prudent to figure out where you're going to go from here, and attempt to do it all at the same time," Corker told CNN. "People will see some of the flaws in just repealing only."