With Congress convened and only 15 days left until the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, the topic of the week seems to be "health care." On Wednesday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence declared repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act the "first order of business" — so how will that roll out?
For the time being, Congress is planning to repeal ObamaCare as quick as it can, with the White House aiming to implement executive action to "ease the transition," Politico's Playbook reports. Some lawmakers floated a deadline of Feb. 20 to have a bill prepared for Trump that repeals the health care law, although Speaker Paul Ryan's spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, disagreed with that assertion, CBS News reports. What top Republicans did agree on was not "pull[ing] the rug out from under" Americans — "We don't want people to be caught with nothing," Ryan said. Or, as Playbook puts it: "The stuff everyone likes isn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future."
Then there is the question of the ACA replacement, or "TrumpCare," as Obama has asked Democrats to call it:
Internally, Republicans say they will come up with an alternative in 2017. Yes, you read that correctly: The delay is to allow an orderly transition — but plans will be developed and unveiled THIS YEAR, multiple senior GOP sources tell us. Republicans haven't really communicated that too well. Of course, this could all change. The incoming administration seems to want near simultaneous action on repeal and replace, but that simply won't happen. Republicans have a lot of ideas about health care, and they won't simply rally around Trump immediately because he's the president. Democrats don't think much of this plan, and say it will cause chaos across the country. [Politico Playbook]
In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump again appeared to caution against razing the ACA, demanding Republicans and Democrats work together "and come up with a health care plan that really works — much less expensive & FAR BETTER!" What that means is unclear, and harder to approach: "Republicans are now realizing how hard it will be to replace the law," Playbook writes, "and many of them have plainly settled on the fact that they will never be able to craft a plan to insure as many people as ObamaCare does."