The largest group of doctors in the country is cautioning Republican leaders to come up with a real plan to replace Obamacare before forging ahead with repeal.
On Tuesday, Republicans took the first step toward rolling back the law, introducing a budget resolution that will allow Congress to sidestep a Democratic filibuster and dismantle key parts of Obamacare. Republican leaders have signaled they plan to use this budget process to produce legislation by January 27 that includes repealing portions of health reform.
But repealing Obamacare is the easy part. What to do next is much harder — and GOP lawmakers don’t have that part figured out.
Although Republicans have been railing against Obamacare for the better part of six years, they haven’t come up with any concrete policy ideas to reshape our nation’s complicated insurance industry and prevent 20 million Americans from losing the health coverage they gained under Obamacare. GOP leaders have never been able to coalesce around a meaningful plan.
Instead, Republicans have suggested they’ll throw the insurance industry into chaos by repealing Obamacare now and figuring out how to replace it later. This strategy, dubbed “repeal and delay,” threatens to create widespread uncertainty in the industry as major insurers will be unclear where the country might be headed with its national health care policy.
That’s pretty concerning to the American Medical Association — one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States — which sent a letter to Republican leaders on Tuesday urging a different approach.
“Policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies.”
Before rushing to repeal Obamacare, Republican leaders in Congress need to come up with a real plan that has enough details to prove it will be better than the existing realities under the health care law, the AMA wrote.
“Policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies,” the letter reads. “Patients and other stakeholders should be able to clearly compare current policy to new proposals so they can make informed decisions about whether it represents a step forward in the ongoing process of health reform.”
That’s a tall order for the GOP — particularly considering that every Republican alternative to Obamacare put forward over the past several years has been projected to result in fewer Americans having access to insurance.
The AMA, hardly known for its progressive policy positions, isn’t the only major conservative-leaning group cautioning against the GOP’s “repeal and delay” approach.
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) January 4, 2017
Scholars from the American Enterprise Institute, a prominent libertarian think tank, published a piece in Health Affairs on Tuesday arguing that “repeal and delay” is the wrong path forward because it “carries too much risk” and “is unlikely to produce a coherent reform of health care in the United States.”
Some Republican lawmakers themselves have expressed concerns about the strategy, cautioning against a hasty Obamacare repeal without a clear plan for preventing widespread destabilization in the insurance market.
“If Congress fails to vote on a replacement at the same time as repeal, the repealers risk assuming the blame for the continued unraveling of Obamacare,” GOP Sen. Rand Paul wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday.
Nonetheless, GOP leaders appear to be barreling forward. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is scheduled to speak with Republicans on Wednesday to shore up support for moving forward with Obamacare repeal. And under the current budget reconciliation plan, four congressional committees have just three weeks to write the legislation that will serve as a the major mechanism for repealing large portions of Obamacare — hardly enough time to solve the Obamacare replacement question that’s plagued the GOP for six years.