A Republican senator who challenged Donald Trump for the White House nomination says the president-elect “fully supports” repealing President Barack Obama’s health law only when there’s a viable alternative to replace it.
Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled Congress are moving toward a vote on repeal legislation in coming weeks, but they anticipate a transition period of months or years to a replacement. Some Republican lawmakers are expressing reservations about scrapping the law, which now covers 20 million people, without a near-term replacement.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who clashed with Trump during the GOP primary, said in a tweet late Friday that the two had a conversation and that Trump agreed with Paul’s approach.
“I just spoke to @realDonaldTrump and he fully supports my plan to replace Obamacare the same day we repeal it,” Paul tweeted. “The time to act is now.” Trump aides did not immediately respond questions about the conversation and how it had come about.
Nothing about revamping the nation’s $3 trillion-a-year health care system will come easy, but GOP leaders want congressional committees to have legislation dismantling much of Obama’s overhaul ready by late January. They’re hoping Congress can quickly send a measure to the incoming president that would phase out the law, perhaps a couple of months later.
Crafting a GOP replacement probably will take more time, thanks to Republican divisions and solid Democratic opposition. It would be a political nightmare for Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and then fail to pass a new version of the law.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters Friday that Republicans might find themselves in a “box canyon” if they erase the law without a substitute in hand. One part of Obama’s law Republicans are eager to repeal is its tax increases on higher-earning people and segments of the health care industry that help finance expanded coverage.
Corker said that if those taxes are voided but Republicans temporarily continue subsidies to help people buy coverage, “that means Republicans would have to vote for a tax increase” to pay for them – usually a non-starter for the GOP.