Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is calling for “incremental” health-care reform after the Senate failed to pass an ObamaCare replacement bill last year.
Asked on Fox Business on Tuesday if lawmakers will try again to pass an ObamaCare repeal legislation this year, Ryan pointed to incremental changes.
“Well, I think there are a lot of things we can do kind of incrementally,” Ryan said.
The comments are an acknowledgement that there is no apparent path forward for a large-scale ObamaCare replacement or entitlement reform bill this year in the Senate, where Republicans now have a one-seat majority.
Ryan noted that the opposition of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is what prevented the Senate from passing a pared-down ObamaCare repeal bill.
“What we tried to do was do it all in the House bill with repeal and replace,” Ryan said. “Like I said, we passed it. And that bill — one guy in the Senate did this instead of that and that went down. That would have been the biggest entitlement reform bill ever passed by Congress.”
“So what are we doing?” Ryan continued. “We’re going back and doing it incrementally. Going back at incremental health-care reform and other entitlement reforms so we can chip away at this problem.”
“I think the best chance we have is going after incremental entitlement reform since the fact the Senate couldn’t pass it,” he said.
Ryan did not say what incremental actions he sees as possible. It appears unlikely that Republicans will set up a fast-track bill on healthcare that allows Republicans to bypass a Democratic filibuster, limiting their options.
As examples of previous incremental steps, Ryan pointed to repealing the ObamaCare individual mandate in the tax bill, as well as charging wealthier seniors higher Medicare premiums and repealing the Medicare cost-cutting board known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board in the budget deal last week.
Pressed on rising deficits, Ryan emphasized the need to reform entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid, even though he acknowledged that incremental action is a more realistic path.
“We’ve got to reform our health-care entitlements,” Ryan said. “That is why we can never give up on reforming health care, because if you reform health care, then you take care of the structural drivers of our debt, like Medicare and Medicaid.”