Vice President-elect Mike Pence says that the first priority of President-elect Donald Trump is to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. But Democrats say the incoming administration has nothing to replace it with, and that repealing the law will only lead to “chaos.”
“Obamacare has failed,” Pence said after a meeting with House Republicans on Wednesday. “Now is the time to keep our promises. Step one will be to repeal Obamacare.”
Pence said Trump will sign executive orders related to repealing President Obama’s signature health care law on his first day in office Jan. 20.
“Today, our message is very simple,” Pence said. “We’re going to be in the promise-keeping business. … We’re going to keep our promise to the American people — we’re going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with solutions that lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government.”
The Indiana governor, who was a congressman in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, said Obama’s promises about the health care legislation turned out to be false.
“We were told that if you like your doctor, you can keep it,” Pence said. “Not true.”
Pence’s comments came as Obama was also on Capitol Hill meeting with Democrats to discuss how to block GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell similarly said repealing Obamacare was the first item on the GOP agenda.
After meeting with Obama, freshly minted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats “have a great deal of optimism that the good things that have happened in ACA are gonna stay” and that Republicans “don’t quite know what to do” with their newfound power.
“They’re like the dog that caught the bus,” Schumer said. “They can repeal, but they have nothing to put in its place.”
“The first big fight of this new Congress will be over health care,” he continued. “Republicans are plotting and soon will be executing a full-scale assault on the three pillars that support the American health care system: the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid. The Republican plan to cut health care wouldn’t make America great again; it would make America sick again and lead to chaos.”
The GOP's first move this Congress will be a full-scale assault on the three pillars of our health care system: Medicare, Medicaid & the ACA pic.twitter.com/WzaoLMN2jw
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 4, 2017
Trump has indicated that there are parts of the Affordable Care Act he intends to keep, and that repealing and replacing the law will be done “simultaneously.”
But any “replace” effort is likely to be complicated because the most controversial portions of Obamacare, including the requirement to buy insurance or pay a fine, help pay for the parts of the law that are supported by many Republicans, such as the requirement that insurance companies accept people with preexisting conditions.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump fired off a series of tweets saying that Republicans must make sure that expected increases in Obamacare premiums are blamed on the Democrats. He also referred to Schumer as a “clown.”
In response, Schumer said Republicans “should stop clowning around” with health care.