Republicans Disagree on Details in Push to Repeal and Replace 'Obamacare'

Trump said Republicans should begin "repeal and replace" at the same time.

ByABC News
January 11, 2017, 2:30 PM

— -- They control the Senate, the House and, soon, the White House — but Republicans are still divided over three words: "repeal and replace."

As Senate Republicans prepare to this week to begin a long process of repealing and replacing "Obamacare," the party is still divided over how that should be done and when.

At his first news conference as president-elect Wednesday, Trump said Republicans would submit "repeal and replace" plans "almost simultaneously" after his pick for secretary of health and human services is confirmed.

"It will be essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week but probably the same day. Could be the same hour," he said. "We're going to do repeal and replace. Very complicated stuff."

On Tuesday, Trump told The New York Times that Republicans "have to get to business" on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," and said a repeal vote would come "sometime next week," with a replacement vote "very quickly or simultaneously."

GOP leaders voiced support for a repeal and delay strategy for "Obamacare" after the elections — a quick or immediate repeal vote that would phase out the law over a number of years, giving lawmakers time to construct a replacement.

Now top Republican officials on Capitol Hill say they will present their replacement proposal as they vote on a repeal measure, which they hope will includes elements of the replacement.

"Our goal is to bring it all together concurrently," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Tuesday. "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."

On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said in a radio interview that the repeal bill "is slated to be on the president's desk in February" and it will include a repeal of the medical device tax.

"That's the timetable we're working under," he said on "The Hugh Hewitt Show."

Today the Senate will begin the process of constructing a repeal bill with a marathon vote to begin the budget reconciliation process. The House is expected to vote on it later this week, which would instruct relevant committee to start working on repeal language.

But some Republicans want Congress to take more time to begin this process and push back a nonbinding deadline for the committee to put together a replacement.

In the Senate, Republicans need just 51 votes to pass a repeal of the law but 60 to approve any comprehensive replacement plan.

Sen. Bob Corker, who introduced an amendment last night to bump back the timeline on repeal, said he was "doing a public service by issuing caution."

"I just want to make sure we've done something that's prudent and not just a political point," he added. "There's consternation on both sides of the building."

Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the crucial Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee told reporters yesterday, "We are not looking for a quick fix, we are looking for something that works over the long haul."

He said that work on replacement could be done in a gradual, piecemeal fashion.

House conservatives are reluctant to vote on a budget measure until they know more about plans to replace "Obamacare."

Roughly 20 million people have received health care coverage under President Obama's signature health care law. According to new data from the Department of Health and Human services, 300,000 more people signed up for health insurance this year than last year, as of late December 2016.

ABC's Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.

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