WASHINGTON — 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 the House would aim to take both steps “concurrently.”
The push for speed and coordination came as growing numbers of Republicans expressed concerns about 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.”
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.”