Paul Ryan Promises Republicans Will Complete 'Obamacare' Replacement Bill This Year

PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 5, 2017. PlayJonathan Ernst/Reuters
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House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged today that Republicans will complete legislation to repeal and replace "Obamacare" this year.

A replacement plan will be written to allow new programs to be phased in later, Ryan said.

His leadership team has yet to introduce any legislation, let alone a bill that has the support of a majority of representatives. Still, he said he was confident a bill could be composed and approved swiftly.

"Our legislating on 'Obamacare,' our repealing and replacing and transition legislating will occur this year," he said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. "What date all of this will phase in on is something we do not know because we are waiting for the Trump administration to be stood up. We are waiting for Tom Price to be confirmed and become the secretary of health and human services."

Republicans have promised for years to repeal President Obama’s signature health care law at their first opportunity. This week, upon returning to Capitol Hill, Republican senators wasted no time. They introduced a budget bill that asked committees and lawmakers for ideas to remove funding from key components of the law.

However, hospitals, doctors and even some in the GOP's ranks have urged caution, saying it would be unwise to defund or repeal the law without a clear replacement plan.

During an interview Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said, "I think it's imperative that Republicans do a replacement simultaneous to repeal."

"If they don't," he said, "'Obamacare' continues to unravel." He added that the insurance marketplaces could collapse.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said his Republican colleagues would now understand the challenges.

"Now they're going to own it, and all the problems in the health care system — and there have been many throughout the years, no one has solved all of them — are going to be on their back."

The first stages of repeal could be passed very quickly, most likely by the end of this month, in a budget reconciliation package. Ryan said today that he expected Republican legislation to defund Planned Parenthood would be included.