A GOP health aide explained the strategy on the shift: “Come up with a plan and come up with a plan quick to deal with popular … provisions. An interesting twist will be money spent and continued implementation. There could be a deal struck on those two issues as well.” The aide said Democrats would have a hard time turning down a Republican proposal to reinstate some of the law’s most popular pieces.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), asked by TPM if he believes his party should back the pre-existing conditions and under-26 laws, didn’t endorse specifics but affirmed that his party ought to have a plan ready. “Well, I think we need to be prepared,” he said. “And we will be prepared.”
The shift is notable because Republicans have spent more than two years pledging nothing less than total repeal of the law. That has conscripted them into disavowing all of its elements, implicitly or explicitly, even though core pillars of the law had significant support within the GOP before Obama embraced them.
Now, however, the party would be caught in an election-year predicament if the Supreme Court grants them their wish and overturns the law. Warming to these provisions is an important signal that Republicans believe the extent of their anti-“Obamacare” stance over the last few years is politically unsustainable. That’s not sitting well with conservative advocates.