WASHINGTON Jan 4 President-elect Donald Trump
and congressional Republicans have vowed to move quickly to
repeal President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, but
dismantling the program could leave tens of millions of
Americans without healthcare.
Such an outcome could fuel a major backlash against
Republicans, who control both houses of the U.S. Congress. The
dilemma will be the focus of talks that Vice President-elect
Mike Pence will have with Republican lawmakers on Wednesday on
At the same time, Obama is meeting with Democrats at the
Capitol to figure out how to protect the Obamacare law from
Republicans who want to repeal and replace it with a more
Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer of the Senate and Nancy
Pelosi of the House of Representatives, are to hold a news
conference after the session.
"The president's priority and the president's motivation is
rooted in looking out for the interest of the 22 million
Americans whose healthcare would be taken away if Republicans
repeal the Affordable Care Act," White House spokesman Josh
Earnest told reporters.
Trump has vowed to protect some popular parts of the
Obamacare law, such as barring insurance companies from denying
coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. But he
wants to replace it with a system that is "much better and much
less expensive," as he told Reuters on Oct. 25 after premium
increases emerged in some healthcare markets.
Republican Representative Chris Collins, a liaison between
the Trump transition team and Congress, said he did not expect
Pence to have definite answers to detailed healthcare policy
questions such as what timeframe should be considered for
repealing the law.
The transition team, Collins said, is "not into that kind of
meat and potatoes."
A House Republican leadership aide said there are lots of
Republican "ideas," but it is too early to know what will end up
in replacement legislation.
Representative Raul Labrador, a leading House conservative,
asked on Tuesday where things stand with repeal and replace
legislation, said there are six different proposals and all will
have to circulate through various congressional committees.
"There's just going to be hearings. The Democrats spent a
lot of time screwing up the economy and screwing up healthcare,
and it's going to take us a lot of time trying to rectify it,"
Asked about short-term bridges to help the insurance
industry during a transition period, Labrador said, "The
insurance industry got us into this mess. I think they're going
to have to pay the price for it."
In a December letter to U.S. lawmakers, the American Academy
of Actuaries highlighted the potential consequences of repealing
or gutting the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.
"Delaying the effective date of repeal while a replacement
is worked out likely won't be enough to assure the stability and
sustainability of the individual market," the actuaries wrote in
the letter. The individual market is where those not insured
with a group, such as a workplace, go to buy insurance.
Repealing major parts of Obamacare, such as the requirement
to participate in the individual insurance market, could create
a cascade effect, causing "the risk pools to deteriorate and
premiums to become less affordable," the letter said.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said in
a November policy paper that timing and sequencing the repeal of
Obamacare was a complex issue and could take two budget cycles,
2017 and 2018.
(Additional reporting by Mike Stone; Writing by Steve Holland;
Editing by Leslie Adler)