Photo credit: NOBama NoMas via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Could This Backup Plan for Obamacare Repeal Save the Senate GOP?


After spending the last seven years promising the American people that they would repeal and replace Obamacare, GOP members of Congress are getting cold feet now that they actually have the opportunity to do it.

All indications are that, as of this afternoon, the current Senate GOP bill lacks the votes to pass.

In the meantime, two GOP senators and one former senator are preparing a backup plan if the bill doesn’t pass, in the form of a federalism-based bill that would largely put the states in charge of health care policy.

The backup bill is being sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), with assistance from a familiar face: former Senator Rick Santorum, the runner-up for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, who currently runs a conservative group called Patriot Voices.

The bill would keep most of the taxes imposed by Obamacare, but instead of keeping those tax dollars in Washington, the money would be granted to the 50 states. California could set up its own rules, while Texas could set up entirely different rules.

Santorum says the problem with the health care bills currently being considered in Congress is that they accept the underlying fundamental notion of Obamacare — that Washington, D.C., should be in control of health care policy. He says this backup proposal rejects that big-government concept and replaces it with a federalist solution. Santorum crafted the landmark 1996 welfare reform bill that dismantled federal welfare in favor of block grants to the states to administer welfare programs, and this new health care proposal is based on that concept.

Graham says the bill is not intended to compete with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s current health care reform bill, but rather intended as a backup plan if McConnell’s doesn’t pass.

This proposal was just unveiled today, and no major conservative policy group has appeared to comment on it yet. Graham’s conservative credentials are dicey, but Santorum’s are rock-solid. It will be interesting to see if this backup plan gains any traction.

To hear Santorum’s take on the plan, check out the video below:

Photo via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

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