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Health Care Repeal Effort Splits Conservative, Moderate Republicans

health care

Right-wing members of the Republican party continue to push for a full repeal of the Democrats' new package of health care reforms, even as GOP leaders have blunted their message to one of "repeal and replace."

Rep. Steve King (R-Ohio) plans to push GOP leaders to embrace the effort to fully repeal President Obama's health care laws, the Hill reports.

"Sell the repeal idea. We can debate the replace idea," King told the Hill. "That's what I would like to see our leadership do."

Tea Party groups, which heightened the intensity of the health care debate with protests last summer at town hall meetings, "are not going to have any patience with equivocation," King said.

While a handful of Republican bills have already been introduced that repeal the legislation to varying degrees, King reportedly said he would not sign onto anything less than a full repeal.

"I didn't want to confuse the message on repeal by adding the word 'replace' because there's a question mark that hangs on 'replace,' which is, 'What would you replace it with?' and then the discussion gets drug down [sic] into something that all Republicans are not going to agree on," he said.

Meanwhile, at a rally that attracted thousands of supporters, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) yesterday complained of an "infamous monstrosity of a vote to nationalize effectively health care in the United States of America."

"Repeal is what this girl is going to be all about after November," she said.

Campaigning on the promise to repeal health care reform may be an easy way to rally conservative voters, but it would be practically infeasible to fully repeal the new laws, especially during the Obama administration. Mr. Obama has essentially dared Republicans to run on the promise of repealing the reforms, contending that voters will not want the benefits of the legislation -- such as new consumer protections -- rolled back.

Republican leaders have acknowledged as much, instead calling for the repeal of certain aspects of the law with the promise to replace them with something better. Special Report: Health Care

"We're going to have to come back and fix this bill time and time again in the coming weeks and months to correct flaws and mistakes," House Minority Leader John Boehner wrote in a memo in which he laid out specific items to repeal and proposals to put in their place.

The "repeal and replace" slogan has angered conservatives.

"If Republicans cannot repeal an unpopular bill where many of the costs are front-loaded, many of the benefits are yet to come, and where the creation of another entitlement is as detrimental to their own partisan self-interest as it is to the nation's finances, then conservatives cannot count on Republicans to undo very much of what they routinely denounce and campaign against," wrote W. James Antle, III, associate editor of The American Spectator.

Meanwhile, it has put moderate Republicans up for re-election, like Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware, who is running for Senate, between a rock and a hard place. Castle has left voters wary by wavering on the repeal issue.

"You're not going to be able to repeal this legislation," Castle said. "Now maybe we could if there's an election for a new president and you have a couple of elections for Congress. I'd be willing to consider it."

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