Obamacare ‘Cliff’ Worries Republicans

Congress starts sweating the details of ‘repeal and replace’

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will lead Republicans’ joint retreat next month in Philadelphia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Though Republicans are itching to start on their promises to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, many of them worry about repercussions if the process stalls or takes too long.


The GOP will most likely have to take a piecemeal approach to rolling back the health care legislation, a process Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said will be the first priority of the 115th Congress. 


A new health care law might not take effect for up to three years, The Associated Press reported, in order to give Congress and President-elect Donald Trump enough time to come up with a feasible replacement. 


In the meantime, the uncertainty could leave Republican members up for reelection vulnerable.


The 20 million Americans covered under Obamacare might face rising premiums or fewer coverage options in the interim, leading to feelings of distrust toward the party in power — a possible political cliff, in other words. 


“There needs to be a reasonable transition period so people don’t have the rug pulled out from under them,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters last week.


But not all Republicans see eye to eye on the proposed time frame.


“I hope it’s not years with no replacement,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio. “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.”


Next year, Stivers will head the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Republicans’ political organization. 


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