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President-elect Donald Trump is pushing Republicans to shorten their timetable for repealing the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare.
According to a report from The New York Times, Trump told The Times on Tuesday that he wanted the ACA immediately repealed and replaced, calling the law a “catastrophic event.”
Trump appeared to be pushing back at Republicans who have in recent days suggested delaying a repeal until a full replacement plan is developed.
It also flies in the face of a plan by GOP lawmakers to pass a bill that would nominally repeal the bill while delaying actual implementation of the repeal by two to four years to build a replacement.
According to the Times report, Trump said he wanted Obamacare to be repealed “probably sometime next week” and a replacement to be introduced “very quickly or simultaneously.”
This is a massive undertaking given the complexity of the ACA.
Trump told The New York Times that a long time for getting repeal done “would be weeks” and that he did not favor a repeal-and-delay strategy that would take years to roll back the ACA.
A bill currently in front of Senate committee would repeal most of Obamacare using a process known as budget reconciliation and has a deadline for January 27 to bring a full repeal bill to the Senate.
There has been some cooling on the fast-tracked repeal of the ACA among Republicans, however. Five GOP senators proposed an amendment to the bill on Monday night to extend this deadline to March 3 to give lawmakers more time to come to an agreement on a replacement bill.
The leader of the amendment, Sen. Bob Corker, of Tennessee, said the delay was to ensure a replacement could be found that would keep the more than 23 million people who have gained access to health insurance through the ACA from seeing a disruption in their coverage.
“By extending the deadline for budget-reconciliation instructions until March, Congress and the incoming administration will each have additional time to get the policy right,” Corker said in a statement on Monday night.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a press conference on Tuesday that Republican leaders wanted to repeal and replace the ACA “concurrently.” Ryan said Republicans had a plan to replace the law – most likely referring to his “Better Way” healthcare proposal – but GOP leadership has not advanced a specific bill.
Additionally, numerous GOP senators including Rand Paul, John McCain, Lamar Alexander, and Tom Cotton have all expressed a desire to wait until a full replacement plan is ready to go before repealing the law.
In addition to lighting a fire under Republicans, Trump told The Times that he was taking on Democrats as well. Democrats have said they will not assist Republicans on any replacement or repeal of Obamacare, saying any such plan would “make America sick again.”
Trump noted to The Times that Democrats had numerous senators up for reelection in 2018 in states carried by the president-elect in November. Trump said he would “be out there campaigning” in those states and those Democrats should therefore assist with the new healthcare bill.