The Republican-controlled Senate will act this week to repeal Obamacare, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Republicans are working to immediately keep the campaign promise of president-elect Trump and many others in Congress, while at the same time looking ahead to an alternative with which to replace the so-called Affordable Care Act.
McConnell said: “There ought not to be a great gap” between repealing the act and replacing it and that Republicans would be “replacing it rapidly after repealing it.”
The plan to immediately repeal Obamacare without a replacement already passed has raised concerns that there will be a gap in coverage for millions of Americans. For example, President Obama assumed the doomsday scenario, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” when he said that if the law is repealed, “suddenly 20 million people or more don’t have health insurance.”
It is true that more than Obama’s legacy is at stake if the law were repealed without a replacement, but Democrats and many in the media conveniently have ignored the robust debate that has been occurring within conservative circles over the best way to proceed to avoid a gap in coverage.
Politico reported yesterday that Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus were unwilling to promise immediate repeal and replacement from the White House. As President-elect Trump would have to sign the bill, he could instead veto it if he felt Congress should first be farther along in the process of developing a replacement. Senator Rand Paul argued that Republicans should already have a replacement ready to go.
The most popular approach at this time seems to be a two-year transition away from Obamacare. Again, from Reuters:
“I think everybody recognizes that there will be a transition period,” Scalise said. “President-elect Trump and our leaders have said nobody is going to get the rug pulled out from underneath them.”
Scalise cited a previously proposed Republican bill to repeal the healthcare law that laid out a two-year transition period for putting in place an alternative. “That’s a benchmark for what we’re looking at again,” he added.
With legislation touching such a massive industry, it seems natural that changes could not be made overnight, and indeed, Obamacare was not fully phased in until several years after its passage.
Republicans are not starting from scratch either, despite the sense one might get from mainstream news outlets. Though Republican plans have been generally ignored by the Left, there are numerous ideas that Congress can work with.
The enactment of such a massive program as Obamacare predictably has created a new policy paradigm in which few can imagine a workable health care system not built upon it. This despite the increasing unaffordability of health care, the difficulties in obtaining coverage and the negative impact the law has had on health insurance providers.
Kudos to Republicans for having the courage to tackle the political minefield that is health care policy and work towards a plan that provides more affordable, accessible health care.