Republican Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has signaled the top priority for Congress in a Trump administration will be to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation.
On Nov. 9, a day after President-elect Donald Trump pulled off a shocking upset victory and won the White House, McConnell told reporters that the GOP-controlled Congress would move swiftly to repeal ACA when the new administration begins.
“It’s a pretty high item on our agenda, as you know,” McConnell said, according to the Morning Consult. The majority leader added that he would be “shocked if we didn’t move forward to keep our commitment to the American people.”
Republicans in Congress would likely use a budget tool known as reconciliation, which allows for legislation to move through both chambers without being subjected to a filibuster, Politico reports.
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“Much of this you can do through budget reconciliation,” Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said on Nov. 6. “This is our game plan for 2017.”
Ryan had already attempted to do this in 2015, but that bill was vetoed by Obama. On Nov. 9, after his party captured full control of the U.S. government, Ryan made it clear he intended to follow through on his plan.
“This Congress, this House majority, this Senate majority has already demonstrated and proven that we’re able to pass that legislation and put it on the president’s desk,” Ryan said. “The problem is President Obama vetoed it. Now we have President Trump coming who is asking us to do this.”
On the campaign trail, Trump had vowed to swiftly repeal the ACA as a top priority when he assumed office. The business mogul and his party have been less clear on what would replace it.
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The bill that Ryan had pushed in 2015 would have resulted in 20 million currently insured Americans losing their health insurance and it is not clear how the GOP would offset that loss, USA Today reports.
Health care consultant Benjamin Isgur of the PwC’s Health Research Institute notes that several components of ACA are popular and doing away with them could result in mass outrage.
“Everyone’s really looking toward how the Trump administration will be filling in the gaps of what’s known about his health care policy preferences,” Isgur said. “If it’s ‘repealing and replacing,’ how exactly would that be defined?” What about the parts of the ACA that tend to be very popular?”
Provisions in the ACA that Republicans are unlikely to touch include the ban on insurance companies turning away customers with preexisting health conditions and allowing people younger than 26 to remain on their parents' insurance plans.