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For Conservatives, A New Day In Health Care

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With President Donald Trump’s recent appointment of Republican Rep. Tom Price to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Trump’s promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act seems likely to happen.

Republican leaders recently have indicated they may repeal the law now and delay replacement for a few years.

The American public appears divided on the law, which has resulted in coverage of more than 20 million people. A Pew Research Center poll conducted early this month found that Americans are evenly divided on whether to repeal or expand the law (39 percent each). Another 15 percent want lawmakers move forward with the law as it is. The percentage of Republicans who favor immediate repeal actually declined to 76 percent from 85 percent in October.

Certain parts of the law remain popular. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted a week after the election found that 80 percent of Americans said they liked the provision of the law that provides financial help people purchase coverage. And 69 percent favor the provision that prohibits insurers from denying coverage based on a person’s medical history. (KHN is an editorially independent service of the foundation.)

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Not a single major organization representing patients, doctors, hospitals or insurance companies, meanwhile, supports repealing the law, according to the Los Angeles Times.

So what would a Republican replacement plan actually look like? And would it maintain some of the more popular pieces of the ACA?

To find out, we spoke with leading conservative health care expert Lanhee Chen co-author of the influential American Enterprise Institute replacement proposal. Chen previously served as the policy director for Gov. Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign and is currently a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Q: The election has elevated the importance of conservative health policy ideas. What’s it like to move front and center?

There are a lot of people out there probably who assume that Republicans have no ideas on health care, because this has been the Democratic talking point for a long time. I think actually just the opposite is true. It’s not that we don’t have enough ideas as conservatives, it’s that we actually have too many. A lot of thinking and research has gone on the last several years around how you create a health care system that is more consumer friendly,

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