Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confirmed in a press conference on Monday that Congress will begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) shortly after it convenes on January 3, according to The Huffington Post.
Congressional Republicans will likely use the budget reconciliation to set repeal in motions, although there is disagreement around the length of time the transition away from the ACA should take.
- Some Republicans appear worried over the potential political consequences that could accompany a lengthy repeal process, according to the Associated Press.
Although Republicans have not developed consensus around a replacement plan and disagree on the length of time they should give themselves to craft health reform legislation, they are dead set on beginning ACA repeal as soon as possible. “We will move right after the first of the year on an Obamacare replacement resolution, and then we’ll work expeditiously to come up with a better proposal than current law,” Sen. McConnell said.
Republicans will likely vote on a budget reconciliation bill that repeals parts of the ACA, but delays the effective date of repeal. It is not clear how long that delay will last. Some Republicans have called for a replacement plan to be put in place within a year or so of the vote while others have suggested a delay of up to three years, according to the Associated Press.
The approach is likely to have a significant effect on insurance markets. With the future of ACA exchanges in doubt, payers could pull out. This would cause premiums to rise, which might make coverage unaffordable for many patients who purchased plans through the exchanges. The American Academy of Actuaries warned that this could be the case if Republicans take the “repeal-and-delay” approach in a December 7 letter to Congress.
Some Republicans are concerned the consequences of “repeal-and-delay” could come back to haunt them in the polls. “I hope it’s not years with no replacement,” Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) told the Associated Press. “Quality matters more than speed, but speed can’t be ignored. You don’t want the American people to feel too uncomfortable for too long.