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.Some Democrats are skeptical, like Sen. Sherrod Brown, suspecting that Republicans are bluffing. “They’re joking, right? This is serious? The Republicans—the tea party has never been for consumer laws, never been for protecting families, never been for making Medicare work better. So it’s a continued sham.”
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.
Democrats could call their bluff, and actually force Republicans to act on this—write and bring to the floor their own legislation to preserve the popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act should the Supreme Court strike it down. Then we'd see who's really calling the shots in the Republican Party.