The unraveling of Obamacare has begun in earnest as the president-elect gets ready to assume power in 16 days. House Republicans have announced they are planning to get an Obamacare repeal bill on President-elect Trump’s desk by Feb. 20, while the administration moves forward with executive actions to start unwinding the Affordable Care Act on day one.
Incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) put forward the target date of February 20 after leaving a Wednesday meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence who heads the Obamacare repeal planners. Meanwhile, Pence said Trump plans to take executive actions immediately after taking the oath of office.
Shortly after a budget meeting Pence spoke to reporters. He suggested “It will be an orderly transition to something better; using executive authority to ensure it’s an orderly transition. We’re working now on a series of executive orders that will enable that orderly transition to take place even as Congress appropriately debates alternatives to and replacements for Obamacare.”
One can only imagine what is going through the mind of the outgoing president who many times called the Affordable Care Act the “anchor of my legacy.” It is left to be seen how much of the law will be retained by the Pence planning committee.
Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday that Trump considers Inauguration Day as “Day One” of his presidency. “He is prepared and ready to go. As he’s said before, he wants to enact real change on day one. That will mean within hours of being sworn in. He put his team on notice that he expects nothing less than everyone getting right to work for the American people.”
The sense of immediacy is the key word in Trump’s plans in his first 100 days in office. There have been pleas from the incoming administration for an “orderly” transition, especially when it comes to the healthcare law. Trump has been warned that without an immediate replacement to Obamacare there would be chaos and could lead to insurers dropping out of the market.
There are many details under consideration with options ranging from two to four years. There are some uneasy with the idea of repealing Obamacare without a replacement immediately available. Trump has already stated that two provisions, pre-existing health conditions and siblings able to stay on their parent’s policy until age 26 will remain in the existing law.
At stake are approximately 20 million Americans who stand to lose their coverage if Obamacare is repealed and no replacement materializes. The new administration is clearly aware that such a scenario is exactly the opening the Democrats are looking for since losing considerable political muscle in the last election.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), no close ally to the incoming president, has called for simultaneous repeal and replace. Republicans are eager to repeal the law, but there is much caution among the ranks at this risky political move. It will be a lengthy and deliberative process, which Pence, Trump and Black know must have minimal disruption in the nation’s healthcare system changes.