In his final days as President of the United States, Obama has been making a public push to pressure the Republicans over their plans to undermine “Obamacare,” which his signature legislative achievement for health care for consumers. On Wednesday, he traveled to Capitol Hill to strategize with Democratic lawmakers, and on Friday he will answer questions on health care during a live-streamed interview at Blair House, the government guest house across from the White House.
In an opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine, Obama sought to dispel the notion that Republicans could fulfill their promises to remove the Affordable Care Act immediately ,without risking devastating consequences for consumers. He called the approach “irresponsible,” and “reckless”, and urged Republicans to do the work now to develop an alternative.
“Given that Republicans have yet to craft a replacement plan, and that unforeseen events might overtake their planned agenda, there might never be a second vote on a plan to replace the ACA if it is repealed. And if a second vote does not happen, tens of millions of Americans will be harmed.” Obama wrote. The Democrats are largely resigned to the likelihood that the Republicans will succeed in repealing the law, however, they are seeking to exploit divisions among the party since, for years has been unable to unite behind an alternative plan.
As soon as Trump was elected, his transition team said that repeal is the first order of business, and leaders in Congress hope to deliver a bill voiding much of the law to Trump by late February. Yet with no replacement in line, they’ve been discussing a repeal that wouldn’t take effect for 18 months or longer, which would give them time to devise a new plan.
Although House Speaker Paul Ryan said this week that lawmakers will vote on a replacement in 2017, it’s still unclear how Republicans could replace a law that took more than a year to craft, in such a short period of time, especially since the GOP has disagreements within the party about how to pay for popular parts of the law they hope to preserve.
But according to President Obama, the uncertainty of a repeal with no replacement could lead insurance companies to bail on the health care marketplaces during the phase-out years, which would leave millions without insurance. He added that it would set up a “cliff” with harmful consequences, if lawmakers don’t approve a replacement in time.