Republicans used the first two weeks of the new Congress to pry open the door to Obamacare’s repeal, even before President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in.
But now the hard part begins, with GOP-led committees racing to draft legislation that dismantles President Obama’s politically maligned law, while following the famous doctors creed: Do no harm.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has assured skittish rank-and-file Republicans that GOP leaders and the incoming Trumpadministration are “in sync” on plans to shift from the Affordable Care Act to a plan that replaces heavy federal mandates with market-oriented reforms, though the party hasn’t put a replacement bill on paper.
The risky strategy has emboldened Democrats, who say their political rivals are jumping off a cliff without a safety net for 20 million people who gained coverage under Obamacare, which expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor in 31 states and doles out taxpayer-funded subsidies to qualified persons seeking private plans on web-based exchanges.
“They’re going to pull up every single person who lost insurance and put them on the nightly news, and be able to manipulate public opinion,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist.
So far Republicans leaders appear undeterred. They’re using a fast-track budget process to repeal and replace as much of the law as they can in the first several weeks of Mr. Trump’s administration. And they’re counting on the incoming president to issue administrative actions that smooth the transition away from Obamacare.