U.S. House speaker: Obamacare repeal will have transition time, replacement

Jonathan Ernst—Reuters
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives will include parts of a plan to replace Obamacare in their first steps to repeal it, House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday, as Republicans, including President-elect Donald Trump, discussed a replacement for President Barack Obama’s signature health law. Republicans want repealing the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known, at the top of their agenda when Trump takes office on Jan. 20. But they have not reached consensus on a new health insurance law to take its place. Critics say undoing the law before replacing it could disrupt the insurance market and cause people to lose coverage, and Trump has told Republicans to be careful how they proceed. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence planned to discuss the healthcare law on Tuesday with U.S. Representative Tom Price, Trump’s pick for secretary of Health and Human Services, and Seema Verma, who Trump has named to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, transition spokesman Sean Spicer said. Ryan said on Tuesday that some elements of a substitute plan for Obamacare would be ready sooner rather than later, though he gave no details. “It is our goal to bring it all together concurrently,” Ryan told reporters. “We need to make sure there is a stable transition period so that people do not have the rug pulled out from under them.” He said House lawmakers will pass whatever replacement provisions they can through a budget and reconciliation process now underway, then use a regular legislative process for additional measures. The Senate is expected to vote this week on a budget measure that would direct committees to draft Obamacare repeal legislation shortly. If the measure passes the Senate, it would go to the House for a vote, probably on Friday, House Republican aides said. Spicer said Trump was “continuing to formulate a plan” for replacing Obamacare. Trump’s senior aides met with Ryan on Monday night and discussed the Affordable Care Act and tax policy. Spicer said Trump was focused on more than one priority as his inauguration drew near. Spicer also said Trump would continue to reiterate his commitment to protect Medicare as a guiding principle.