Trump: Repeal health law
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump pushed Congress on Tuesday to act swiftly to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law and follow up with a replacement. Speaker Paul Ryan, after talking with Trump, announced that the House would aim to take both steps “concurrently.”
The push for speed and coordination came as growing numbers of Republicans expressed concerns about the GOP leadership’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in hand, potentially leaving the 20 million people who gained coverage under the law in limbo.
“We have to get to business. Obamacare has been a catastrophic event,” Trump said in an interview with The New York Times.
“Long to me would be weeks,” he added of the gap between repealing and replacing the law. “It won’t be repeal and then two years later go in with another plan.”
Yet that’s exactly the scenario that had been envisioned by GOP leaders who’ve described a transition period of months or years between repealing the enormously complex law and replacing it with something else.
Under the congressional timetable, procedural budget votes set for later this week in the House and Senate would put the repeal process in motion. But the vote on repealing “Obamacare” wasn’t expected until mid-February at earliest; a full replacement hadn’t been expected until months or even years later.
Trump seemed confused about that schedule, telling the Times that the repeal should be “probably sometime next week,” and “the replace will be very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.”
Despite his imprecision, Trump was clear that he put an imperative on speed for both repealing and replacing the law, a message certain to be received loud and clear by congressional Republicans, some of whom had been urging the president-elect to make his views on the matter better known.
And even before Trump’s comments Tuesday, the notion of a lengthy transition period was running into problems on Capitol Hill from Republicans anxious about waiting too long between repealing the health law and replacing it. House Republicans in particular, who face voters every two years, are eager to dispense with the matter before the 2018 midterm elections.
Facing growing demands for speed, Ryan addressed reporters Tuesday morning and described a new approach.
“It is our goal to bring it all together concurrently,” Ryan said. “We’re going to use every tool at our disposal, through legislation, through regulation, to bring replace concurrent along with repeal, so that we can save people from this mess.”