Health & Spirit

Republicans are set on repealing health care law, despite some senators' qualms

Lesley Clark, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Health & Fitness

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans vow to take a major step toward dismantling President Barack Obama's health care plan by the end of the week, despite worries from some members that there's not yet a plan to replace it.

Echoing House Republican leaders who have vowed a hasty repeal if not a speedy replacement plan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday the Senate planned to vote on the repeal resolution this week, even as the Senate continues to work "on what comes next."

Speaking to reporters after a Senate Republican lunch, McConnell pledged the Senate would work with the incoming Trump administration and the House "in crafting a package that we can all agree on and provide a smooth transition from the disaster we have now."

His remarks came despite some fears among senators who have urged lawmakers not to uproot the 2010 Affordable Care Act without offering an alternative. Five moderate Senate Republicans offered an amendment to give lawmakers more time and others said Tuesday said they would prefer a slower approach.

"Lay out the game plan, lay out the strategy," said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. "Let's understand exactly what we're doing here before we just take step one, not understanding what steps two, three and four are."

McConnell's decision comes amid pressure from a variety of factions -- from a conservative band of House lawmakers to the president-elect himself -- about how the Republican Party should best move forward to fulfill their campaign promises and get rid of Obamacare. Democrats, meanwhile, were laying their own strategies to shape, if not block, an overhaul of President Barack Obama's most significant achievement in his two terms.

And President-elect Donald Trump called Tuesday for something the legislative bodies may find all but impossible to deliver: a rapid replacement.

The budget resolution the Senate is expected to vote on as early as Thursday calls for a replacement plan to be delivered to the White House by Jan. 27. The amendment would extend the deadline until March 3.

"There are a number of senators who would like to see what the future is going to be and try to do it simultaneously if possible," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., one of the sponsors of the amendment that would slow down the process. "I'm all for repeal, I just want it done in an appropriate manner."

Repealing the law without replacing it could create disruption in the insurance markets and risks cutting off health care for the 20 million people who, because of the Affordable Care Act, get coverage through the Medicaid program or receive federal help to pay costs. And Republicans have said they'd like to keep popular parts of the law -- such as requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.


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