The original plan to kill Obamacare was “repeal and delay,” meaning Congress would pass a repeal bill that wouldn’t go into effect for at least a couple of years, thereby putting pressure on Democrats to help come up with a replacement. But that appears to be abandoned.
According to this article by Peter Sullivan at The Hill, the new plan is to go ahead and repeal Obamacare — there will be a repeal bill on Trump’s desk by February 20, they say — and then Trump will magically make all the rough transitional thingies go away by executive orders.
Seriously, that’s the plan.
The Feb. 20 target was put forward by incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.), said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), leaving a meeting with House Republicans and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Wednesday.
Pence said Trump plans to take executive actions to start unwinding ObamaCare on day one, but did not get into specifics.
“It will be an orderly transition to something better … using executive authority to ensure it’s an orderly transition,” Pence told reporters. “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.”
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), an early Trump supporter, added that, “The president in his first day in office is going to do some level of executive orders related to ObamaCare.”
But Collins said there were “no details whatsoever” on the orders discussed in the meeting.
They have no idea what they’re going to do. They’re about to hit the Put Up or Shut Up Wall, and they’re flailing.
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) tweeted this right after that same meeting.
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) January 4, 2017
They don’t have a plan. How many years have they been hollering about replacing Obamacare? I’m not good with big numbers.
The February 20 deadline is not completely impossible. Dylan Matthews at Vox explains how congressional Republicans have already paved the way for doing away with most of the ACA through reconciliation, which will allow them to pass the repeal with a simple majority vote in the Senate. For budget reasons they would have to retain the ACA’s cuts to Medicare providers, but everything else could go immediately. See also Sarah Kliff.
Lauren Fox at Talking Points Memo has a different take. I’m not sure if she’s talking about the same meeting, but it seems not everyone is on board.
In a closed-door meeting in the House basement Wednesday with the whip team, a Republican rank-and-file member rose to convey his deep fear that Republicans were making a big mistake by repealing the Affordable Care Act without any concrete plan to replace it with.
According to one source in the room, the member rose and got the room’s attention.
“You lose all leverage once you repeal this thing. There will be people on the left who will never help you replace it and there will be people on the right who aren’t going to help you either,” the member said. “We will own this thing and there will be consequences.”
(Consequences? What is this thing, consequences? We Republicans do not know this word.)
The House isn’t the only place where members are sounding the alarm. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), whose own state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, said earlier this week that Republicans will be making a mistake if they repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at the same time.
The concern is that by moving rapidly to repeal President Obama’s signature accomplishment, Democrats may never work with Republicans on a replacement. That could leave Republicans with two options, either they could change Senate rules and jam through their replacement or they will never get one.
If they go the delay route, there are still those alien consequences things to deal with. Josh Marshall wrote,
The AMA, which has been rather comically pro-Trump to date, came out today and told Republicans that they shouldn’t repeal Obamacare without a clear replacement. Notably, even two of the most conservative health care economists at AEI, came out yesterday and said that ‘repeal and delay’ would be a disaster. The truth is that “repeal and delay” is the policy equivalent of taking off from JFK to Heathrow with 2,000 miles worth of gas and saying you’re going to figure it out en route. No one who knows anything about health care economics, even people who are staunch free marketeers and hate Obamacare, think that makes any sense.
Note that recent polls say only 26 percent of Americans want the ACA repealed.
This morning President-Elect Trump is out with an ambiguous and possibly meaningless (it’s sort of like Being There) series of tweets warning Republicans to “be careful” and make sure that Democrats “own” the “ObamaCare disaster.” …
… They simply have no idea what to do and now they’re being taunted by Trump not to blow and he doesn’t have any idea either. It would be funny if millions of people’s lives and well being weren’t on the line.
For the Democrats, the plan seems to be to let the Republicans hang themselves. CNN:
President Barack Obama delivered a mandate to Democrats on Wednesday: “Don’t rescue” Republicans on Obamacare.
Less than three weeks out from leaving the White House, Obama visited Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill with a mission to save his signature healthcare reform law as Republicans are moving quickly to unroll the Affordable Care Act.
In the closed-door meeting, the President urged fellow Democrats to not “rescue” Republicans by helping them pass replacement measures, according to sources in the room.
He also floated this idea: Start referring to the GOP’s new plan as “Trumpcare.”
The suggestion was a clear indication of the Democratic Party’s goal of turning the tables on Republicans, who are already facing pressure to quickly craft a replacement bill.
Regrettably, that may be the best plan.
Update: Apparently Trump (via the Mouth of Sauron, a.k.a. Kellyanne Conway) he can fix things so that everybody who has insurance will still have insurance, and that people with pre-existing conditions will still be covered. Heh.
This is simply not realistic under any conceivable Obamacare replacement, as Republicans who work on health care policy understand. pic.twitter.com/h1IpebFi7T
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 3, 2017