In an unsurprising move, Senate Republicans are angling to make repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the first item on their 2017 legislative agenda.
With the GOP controlling both houses of Congress and the White House in the coming year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is hopeful legislation to repeal Obamacare will be written and passed with “Democratic cooperation”.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a terse reply.
“Bring it on,” he said. “We’re certainly not gonna be part of this idea of repeal and put nothing in its place.”
Republicans have made repealing Obamacare a central part of their platform for the last six years, ever since the ACA was signed into law in March 2010. However, what Republicans will replace the healthcare laws with has yet to be spelled out. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), said that Republican’s replacement plan will be comprised of “more choices, more competition and more access to health care at a more affordable cost.”
Although Republicans will be able to minimize push back from Democrats, they will need to be careful with how an Obamacare repeal is pursued. Over 20 million Americans now rely on the ACA for their healthcare coverage.
Moves deemed too slow, too fast or too expensive could anger millions of American voters. Electoral politics could also come into play with the 2018 midterm elections now less than two year away.
“Republicans are going to have to recognize that taking away a policy tens of millions have benefited from is not a great strategy when you have elections in 2018 and when you have a policy that impacts the bottom lines of people across this country,” one Democratic strategist noted.
But, with Obamacare premiums set to rise around 25 percent in 2017, Republicans have a chance to satisfy voters if they are able to design a cheaper, alternative plan that can seamlessly replace the current system.
Now all that is left to do is the legislative work.
[Reuters] [Politico] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy AP via ABC News]