Senate takes first big step to repeal ACA

Dive Brief:

  • Early Thursday morning, the Senate voted 51-48 to pass a budget resolution, taking the first major step to repeal and replace the ACA, The New York Times reported. The resolution includes instructions for budget reconciliation to dismantle the law.
  • President-elect Donald Trump would like for an ACA repeal and the implementation of a replacement coverage plan to occur "essentially simultaneously," he said during a press conference Wednesday. Trump did not provide any details on a possible replacement plan.
  • Trump said he would have "healthcare taken care of in this country" as soon as HHS Secretary nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is confirmed, which could happen later this month.

Dive Insight:

Republicans have been attempting to do away with the ACA pretty much from day one. However, a "scorable" plan for replacement coverage has never been presented, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said during her exit speech earlier this week. Trump, who has repeatedly urged Congress to repeal President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, has yet to be inaugurated. So the question that many have recently raised is: What's the rush?

Reforming healthcare is no easy task and what happens with the ACA would have implications for the entire industry as well as the country's economy overall. Burwell articulated three key questions she believes a replacement plan should answer: Does it expand healthcare access to as many people? Does it maintain quality? Will it bend the cost curve in the right direction?

Even without presenting those answers in the form of a replacement plan, early Thursday morning was a big step for the "repeal and replace" movement. The budget resolution now heads to the House for vote.

This week, five GOP senators introduced an amendment to the budget resolution that includes instructions for repealing parts of the ACA via budget reconciliation to extend the deadline for a repeal bill from Jan. 27 to March 3. However, during the "vote-a-rama" that began last night and extended into the early Thursday morning hours, the provision to extend the deadline was withdrawn, CQ Roll Call reported.

Still, the vagueness surrounding the conversation remains. 

“We’re going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary is approved ― almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter ― a plan,” Trump said during the Wednesday press conference. “It’ll be repeal and replace. 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.” 

Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski points out though a quick replacement might not be in the cards if the GOP waits for Price's arrival to HHS, reporting that a confirmation may not occur until the middle of February which would push back the repeal-and-replace timeline to March.

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Filed Under: Payer Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Gage Skidmore