Now that President-elect Donald Trump is due to take office in a matter of days, Congressional Republicans are falling over themselves to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as “Obamacare.” However, it seems that after seven years of trying to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, Republicans have given little thought to the mechanics of how their “replacement” would work.
It now appears that Republicans plan to repeal ACA and then delay the execution of the repeal, thereby buying them more time to cobble together a “free market” based replacement. In other words, they need more time before they kill Obamacare, but they still want to flaunt their trophy kill to their constituents.
On Monday, the Republican plan was once again affirmed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); however, it’s facing peril due to the threat of several GOP defections. Republicans require a House majority of 50 Senate votes, and then for future President Trump to pass the repeal and delay measure. However, if the Republicans lose just three Senate votes, that drops them down to 49, and repeal and delay are stuck in the water. And right now, there are at least 3 Republican senators (in addition to every Democrat in the Senate) who oppose “repeal and delay.”
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is one of the three GOP senators who demand Republicans present a replacement plan at the same time they repeal Obamacare. Paul announced that he conferred with Trump and that they are on the same page concerning this issue, however, the president-elect has been very vague publicly regarding his actual position — he’s just offered the thin assurance, “That’s all gonna work out.” However, Trump has a tendency to change his mind frequently and agree with whoever pays him his last compliment. But now it seems that other Republican Senators have joined in Paul’s obstruction.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) echoes Paul, he said:
We have to take each part of it and consider what it would take to create a new and better alternative and then begin to create that alternative and once it’s available to the American people, then we can finally repeal Obamacare.
Meanwhile Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told MSNBC:
It would not be the right path for us to repeal Obamacare without laying out a path forward.
And Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) seems to be very close to Pauls position, at one point requesting the president-elect to tweet confirmation of what Paul claims they agreed on. He said:
If it is his view, it would be really good if he would consider tweeting it out very clearly. There’s more and more concerns about not doing it simultaneously.
Another bad omen for Republicans comes in the form of a bill being sponsored by Corker and four other Republicans that would delay appealing ACA for another month.
Five GOP senators offer an amendment to extend the Obamacare repeal reconciliation deadline by more than a MONTH. pic.twitter.com/8MPlAy50mR
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 9, 2017
For more details on this latest development, please click here.
It’s clear that Republicans are playing games with the health and well-being of millions of Americans just to make it look like they’ve scored a huge “victory.” However, many Republicans from some of the states that would be hit the hardest with a premature repeal of Obamacare, are either weighing their conscience (or the political cost of screwing up poor working white families healthcare) and taking a stand to have in place a replacement first.
This, of course, does not mean that Obamacare is safe. In all likelihood, it’s going to be repealed within the next four years. However, the more Republicans delay the repeal and debate about what should replace ACA, the greater chance that fewer voters will have the same confidence in their party come 2018 when it’s once again time to decide the balance of power in the legislative branch.
Republicans have finally caught the Obamacare bus they’ve been chasing for seven years, and they could not be more miserable.
Featured image (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)