Entitlement Reform

Club for Growth: Senate Bill Is Not Obamacare Repeal

Rachael Slobodien - June 27th, 2017

“Only in Washington does repeal mean restore.  Because that’s exactly what the Senate GOP healthcare bill does: it restores Obamacare.”

Washington, DC – Today, Club for Growth President David McIntosh issued the following statement in response to the Senate GOP’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”  In his statement, McIntosh also outlines ways in which the Senate should improve its current legislation:

“For seven long years, Americans have waited for health care reform that would repeal the disaster that is Obamacare,” stated Club for Growth President David McIntosh.  “The Club for Growth and the American people took Republicans in Congress at their word when they promised to repeal every word – ‘root and branch’ – of Obamacare and replace it with a patient-centered approach to health care.”

“Only in Washington does repeal translate to restore.  Because that’s exactly what the Senate GOP healthcare bill does: it restores Obamacare.  And while it’s hard to imagine, in some ways the Senate’s legislation would make our nation’s failing healthcare system worse.

“At the time of the House bill’s passage, Club for Growth was adamant that the Senate bill needed to be an improvement over the House bill.

“Sadly, what the Senate has produced is Obamacare-light.   It fails to repeal Obamacare, and the legislation fails to help hard-working American families have affordable health insurance.

“There are numerous flaws in the current Senate version:

  • For starters, the Senate bill is a $292 billion tax increase from the House bill.
  • The Senate bill claims to save taxpayers billions in spending with Medicaid reforms.  In actuality, they punt the difficult task of cutting spending to a future Congress—almost assuring that it will never happen.  This will bankrupt future generations due to Senate Republicans’ lack of political courage.
  • Americans will continue to pay higher health insurance premiums.   The Senate bill leaves untouched Obamacare’s most onerous regulations, which have forced millions of Americans and small businesses to drop their health insurance because of higher premiums and deductibles.
  • The Senate bill creates Republican mandates and penalties for Americans who can’t afford the Obamacare-light health insurance.

“From the beginning of this debate, Club for Growth was crystal clear about what constituted a real repeal of Obamacare.  Repeal all the tax increases, repeal the mandates, and repeal the regulations that make health insurance unaffordable. The Senate GOP’s healthcare bill falls woefully short on all three.

“Given the inadequacies in the current version of the Senate bill, the Club for Growth urges Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to take the time necessary to get it right.  The Senate bill can be cured, and the Club for Growth will not oppose the bill’s passage if a few important changes are made. 

  • First, the Senate should adopt language that will allow an insurer that sells a fully compliant plan the ability to also sell any plan that a consumer would like to purchase.  Alternatively, the legislation should allow the states to opt-out of all Title I regulations.
  • Second, in order to equalize the tax treatment with employer-sponsored plans, individuals should be allowed to pay for insurance premiums with their Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
  • Third, all of the Obamacare taxes must be repealed.

“Absent these reasonable changes to drive down the cost of premiums and provide consumers with more choices and more freedom, the Club for Growth will oppose the ‘Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.’”



David McIntosh - June 20th, 2017

To:                          Interested Parties

From:                    David McIntosh, President. Club for Growth

Date:                     June 19, 2017



Recent polling demonstrates that Republicans can turn the healthcare debate around and win by going on offense.

The numbers show two things:

    1. General election voters will vote against incumbent Senate Democrats who continue to support Obamacare; and

    2. If Republicans fail to repeal Obamacare, Republican and independent voters will not support Republicans.

No wonder why Chuck Schumer has gone all out to stop Obamacare repeal and make it look like a Republican failure.  Sadly, so far Senate Republicans have played into his hand by being on defense.  It’s clearly a losing strategy to call attention to how much of Obamacare Republicans plan to keep in place— like most of the taxes, increased spending, and costly regulations to name only a few.  Instead, Republicans should be reminding voters why they rejected the seriously flawed Obamacare legislation in the first place.

Republicans can turn the debate around and once again make repealing Obamacare a winning issue for them.  The key is focusing on how harmful Obamacare is for Americans and how Republican free-market principles will improve health insurance across the board.  Here is how to do it:

  • REMIND VOTERS JUST HOW BAD OBAMACARE IS:  Instead of debating pre-existing conditions – the House bill still requires that they be covered – talk about the mandates Obamacare imposes.  Remind Americans of the broken promises, starting with “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”

The debate must be about making health insurance affordable for millions of American families.  Under Obamacare, young people cannot afford health insurance.  They are required to either pay exorbitant amounts for coverage or if they forgo coverage, they are punished by having to pay higher taxes.  Obamacare mandates also are forcing many small businesses to cut back on the number of employees they can hire.


  • POLLING SHOWS VOTERS STILL HATE OBAMACARE: In two recent Club for Growth surveys, nearly 60 percent of all general election voters in both West Virginia and Montana said they are “less likely” or “much less likely” to vote for incumbent Democratic Senators who support Obamacare.  Among solely independent voters in Montana and West Virginia, the percentage of independent voters who said they are “less likely” or “much less likely” to vote for incumbent Democratic Senators who support Obamacare remains close to 60 percent.

For example, the question asked Montana voters whether the following information would affect their vote:

Jon Tester supported Obama’s healthcare bill with its higher taxes, mandatory funding for abortions, and higher insurance premiums, costing Montana taxpayers millions of dollars on a failed government program that has increased insurance premiums in Montana by forty-four percent.

These results show that Republicans can win the Obamacare repeal debate when they remind voters of its many flaws.

  • DEMOCRATS LOSE GROUND WHEN THEY ARE FORCED TO DEFEND OBAMACARE:  The surveys also show that Democrats pay a price at the polls for blocking Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with a system that will make health insurance more affordable.  Over 50 percent of all general election voters in both West Virginia and Montana – Democrats, Republicans, and independents – say they are “much less likely” or “less likely” to vote for the incumbent Democratic Senator if he or she opposes the effort to repeal Obamacare.  Among independent voters, roughly 45 percent in West Virginia and 50 percent in Montana say they are “much less likely” or “less likely” to vote for the incumbent Democratic Senator if he or she opposes the effort to repeal Obamacare.

For example, the question asked Montana voters whether the following information would affect their vote:

Jon Tester continues to defend Obamacare even though he admitted there were “plenty of mistakes with the Affordable Care Act,” and 4.7 million Americans have had their private insurance cancelled by Obamacare.

  • VOTERS REJECT REPUBLICANS FAILURE TO ACT:   Other surveys show that Republican Senators and Representatives who are up for reelection in 2018 will also pay a price – thus endangering their majority in both chambers – if they do not repeal Obamacare.  Ten percent of likely Republican voters say they will not reelect Republicans if they don’t fully repeal Obamacare.


What’s crystal clear is that with majorities in both houses of Congress as well as a Republican in the White House, Republicans will have no excuses if they fail to repeal Obamacare.  Even more sobering for Republicans should be the data that shows a whopping 50 percent of independent voters will not vote for Republicans if Obamacare remains the law of the land.

Now we know why Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are fighting so hard to block repeal.  They will continue to pound the table and seek to put Republicans on defense about issues that have already been taken care of (Read the House bill, it retains the Obamacare protection for pre-existing conditions).

The last thing that the liberals want is to be forced to defend the failure that is Obamacare.  Republicans will win if they can successfully shift the debate.  Republicans need to be on offense and demonstrate how repealing Obamacare and its mandates will make health insurance more affordable for all Americans.  Democrats are betting on Republicans in the Senate losing their resolve, and walking away from the repeal effort.  If Republicans don’t change course and go on offense, it’s increasingly likely that Democrats will win in 2018.


But it’s not too late.  Congressional Republicans still can—and should—control their own destiny.

  • Make the bill all about helping the millions of Americans who lost their health insurance and are having to pay ever-skyrocketing deductibles and premiums if they want to keep their health insurance.
  • Talk about how the bill repeals the mandates and tax increases that have crushed small businesses and eliminates the exemption for Congress from Obamacare.
  • Stay away from wonk-ish debates about CBO numbers and imaginary losses of healthcare – we all know Americans will continue to receive excellent healthcare.
  • Show how the Republican bill will bring down health insurance premiums – if you can’t show this, have you really repealed Obamacare?
  • Most of all show that Republicans are working for the American people and will keep their promises after they have been elected.


Coalition Letter Urging Senate to Repeal Obamacare Taxes

Rachael Slobodien - June 13th, 2017

45 Conservative Groups and Activists: The Senate Should Repeal All Obamacare Taxes


June 13, 2017

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance
219 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Hatch:

As the Senate continues to make progress on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, we urge you and your colleagues to include repeal of the nearly 20 taxes imposed by the law.

During a February 1 speech at the Chamber of Commerce, you declared, “All of the ObamaCare taxes need to go as part of the repeal process.”

We agree.

Recent media reports suggest that the Senate may be wavering on repeal of these taxes. This would be a mistake. The final Senate repeal package should retain the broad tax relief that was included in the House passed American Health Care Act.

The roughly one trillion dollars in new or higher taxes imposed by Obamacare directly hit middle class families and small businesses, raise the cost of healthcare, and reduce access to care.

Obamacare taxes directly suppress economic growth. The best example of this is the 3.8 percent so-called Net Investment Income Investment Tax (NIIT) on capital gains and dividends. Historically, capital gains taxes have a significant negative impact on capital formation, productivity, and economic growth while raising little or even negative revenue.

Repealing the 3.8 percent NIIT would return the capital gains tax rate to 20 percent, the rate agreed to by President Clinton and a Republican Congress in 1997.

A related tax hike is the 0.9 percent Medicare surtax on wages and self-employment income, the repeal of which was unfortunately delayed six years by an amendment in the House.  It should be repealed as expeditiously as possible.

Other Obamacare taxes directly impact the ability of Americans to meet healthcare costs, such as the income tax hike on families with high medical bills. Around 10 million families pay $200 to $400 in higher income taxes each year because Obamacare increases the threshold at which families can deduct medical expenses paid out of pocket.

Obamacare also makes it harder for individuals to save for their own healthcare choices. Roughly 20 million Americans use tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to save for healthcare costs. Another 30 million use Flexible Spending Accounts. There are multiple taxes that restrict the ability of families to use these savings accounts, which limits the choice of consumers.

Other taxes hit certain healthcare industries, such as insurance providers, medical device and prescription drug manufacturers. Inevitably, these taxes are passed onto American families in the form of increased costs.

Finally, the tax associated with the employer mandate has limited millions of Americans to part-time work and the tax penalty associated with the individual mandate hit eight million Americans in 2014, with a family of four facing an income tax hike exceeding $2,000.

True repeal of Obamacare means repealing the Obamacare taxes and the Senate should resist the urge to deprive taxpayers of relief in order to pay for higher spending.

We commend you on your stance to repeal these Obamacare taxes and urge any final package accelerate or at least maintain the House-passed tax reductions. (more…)

Op-Ed in The Hill: ObamaCare repeal must include Medicaid reform

Rachael Slobodien - June 05th, 2017

Today, Club for Growth President David McIntosh and Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham, coauthored an op-ed in The Hill.  In the piece, the two explain the need to include Medicaid reform in efforts to repeal Obamacare.

Read the op-ed in its entirety here and an excerpt below.


ObamaCare Repeal Must Include Medicaid Reform

The Hill

By: David McIntosh and Michael Needham
June 5, 2017

At this point it is clear that Republicans have no intention to repeal ObamaCare “root and branch” as so many promised on the campaign trail. Many congressional Republicans have begrudgingly accepted that a significant number of their colleagues were only pretending. Since coming to that conclusion, those conservatives are plotting a path forward in the repeal and replace debate that respects taxpayers and drives down the skyrocketing cost of health insurance. That dynamic was on full display in the House as the conservative Freedom Caucus and a handful of moderates worked in good faith to address the crippling costs of ObamaCare’s regulatory architecture.

A similar opportunity exists in the Senate to improve both the regulatory reforms and various other provisions, but there are serious policy risks in the upper chamber as well. One of the most notable is that some moderate Republican Senators are trying to delay the phase out of ObamaCare’s generous Medicaid expansion subsidy and increase the program’s growth rate. Having already conceded on full repeal of ObamaCare, conservatives should resist attempts to essentially lock the failed law’s over-subsidization of the Medicaid expansion in place.

The notion that the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) does not provide a soft enough landing for Medicaid expansion states to transition into a new financing system is inaccurate. If the AHCA were to become law, ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid to cover able-bodied, childless adults will remain. . .

. . . (more…)

How Conservatives Improved the American Health Care Act

Doug Sachtleben - May 04th, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan introduced the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on March 6, 2017. It was touted as a bill to “end the Obamacare nightmare and give Americans access to truly affordable, quality health coverage.”


Unfortunately, the AHCA fell far short of those lofty ideals.


House Republicans had passed a stronger Obamacare repeal in January 2016, with 239 Republicans voting “Yes,” and only three liberal Republicans voting “No.” At that time, in 2016, Speaker Ryan said, “We have shown now that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate. So, next year if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law. Obamacare will be gone.”


That was the pledge Republicans, led by President Trump, campaigned on in 2016. As the promised fulfillment to that pledge, the AHCA was fundamentally flawed, especially in its failure to address the key drivers of rising insurance premium costs.


The Club for Growth immediately engaged on the issue. The attached timeline lays out some of the meetings, calls, and action steps we took to urge conservatives in Congress and the Trump Administration to quickly address the many problems with the AHCA.


House Republican leaders remained reluctant to make significant changes to the AHCA, and it was pulled from the House floor by leadership on March 24, 2017. The Club for Growth responded with a memo that said, in part, “The conservatives and moderates who opposed the plan should start by meeting together to see what common ground they have.”


Our proposal became the plan that conservatives and moderates followed, and now we are closer than ever to seeing the House vote on a bill that has been dramatically improved.


Because conservatives, including members of the House Freedom Caucus, remained at the negotiating table with the Trump Administration and House leadership, they were successful in bringing much-needed improvements to the AHCA. A summary of those improvements follows.