President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have vowed to make good on their campaign promises to fix — or abolish — the failing Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare.
But President Barack Obama and his cronies aren’t done fighting — and this week, the battle lines are being drawn in Washington, D.C. in the war for American healthcare.
With just days left in his second-term, Obama is traveling to the Capitol to give congressional Democrats advice on how to sabatoge and obstruct the Republican drive to fix or dismantle his controversial healthcare overhaul. Meanwhile, Pence is meeting with GOP lawmakers to discuss the best way to send Obama’s disasterous law to its graveyard and replace it with something that works.
The separate strategy sessions were coming on the second day of the new, GOP-led Congress. In 16 days, Trump replaces Obama at the White House, putting the party’s longtime goal of annulling much of the 2010 healthcare overhaul finally within reach.
Plenty of questions remain, including the repeal bill’s details, costs and when it would take effect. Republicans also face divisions over the next step — replacement legislation — that could take months or years to resolve, should there be establishment resistance to Pence.
Pence was meeting Wednesday morning with House Republicans to discuss their healthcare drive and planned to attend a lunch with Senate Republicans.
Republicans eager to show quick action against Obama’s healthcare law took an initial procedural step Tuesday, introducing a budget bill that would have to be considered under a parliamentary procedure that would prevent Democrats from using a Senate filibuster to protect the healthcare law.
Republicans control the Senate by a 52-48 margin, but it takes 60 votes to end a filibuster, a procedural roadblock that can kill legislation.
The Senate was expected to complete the budget by next week. House approval would follow.
“This is the first step toward relief for Americans struggling under Obamacare,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
The budget legislation gives congressional committees until Jan. 27 — a blink of an eye for lawmakers — to write legislation repealing major parts of the healthcare law. Likely targets include the law’s tax penalties for people who don’t obtain insurance, its requirement that many companies cover workers and tax increases on higher-earning individuals and many healthcare firms.
Aware they have no chance of quickly agreeing on replacement legislation, Republicans plan to delay when their repeal would actually take effect. A range of 18 months to three years — perhaps longer — has been under discussion.
Republicans don’t want to abruptly end healthcare coverage for millions of voters who live in GOP-represented districts and states, or cause chaos in healthcare markets and prompt insurance companies to stop selling policies. So they are considering including provisions in their repeal bill to protect consumers and insurers during the transition period.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a member of the GOP Senate leadership, said that could include money to temporarily continue helping people afford to buy coverage and language letting the Department of Health and Human Services help stabilize insurance markets.
“Everyone realizes there’s going to have to be a phase-in, phase-out period,” Thune said Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this article