BY PETER SULLIVAN – 01/04/17 The HILL
House Republicans are planning to get an ObamaCare repeal bill on President-elect Trump’s desk by Feb. 20, while the administration moves forward with executive actions to start unwinding ObamaCare on day one.
The Feb. 20 target was put forward by incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.), said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), leaving a meeting with House Republicans and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Wednesday.
Pence said Trump plans to take executive actions to start unwinding ObamaCare on day one, but did not get into specifics.
“It will be an orderly transition to something better … using executive authority to ensure it’s an orderly transition,” Pence told reporters. “We’re working now on a series of executive orders that will enable that orderly transition to take place even as Congress appropriately debates alternatives to and replacements for ObamaCare.”
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), an early Trump supporter, added that, “The president in his first day in office is going to do some level of executive orders related to ObamaCare.”
But Collins said there were “no details whatsoever” on the orders discussed in the meeting.
Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday that Trump considers Inauguration Day as “Day One” of his presidency.
“He is prepared and ready to go. As he’s said before, he wants to enact real change on day one. That will mean within hours of being sworn in,” Spicer said. “He put his team on notice that he expects nothing less than everyone getting right to work for the American people.”
Pence’s call for an “orderly” transition comes as healthcare experts warn that the Republican strategy of repealing ObamaCare on a delay without an immediate replacement would cause chaos, leading to insurers dropping out of the market and people having few or no options for coverage.
Republicans still have obstacles to overcome. They have not decided how long to delay the repeal of ObamaCare. Options floated range from two years to four years.
Some Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are uneasy with the idea of repealing ObamaCare without a replacement immediately available.
Twenty million people stand to lose coverage if ObamaCare is repealed and no replacement materializes.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this week became the latest Republican to call for simultaneous repeal and replace.
While Republicans from Pence on down are clearly eager to get rid of ObamaCare, there is much more cautious enthusiasm among the GOP about crafting a healthcare policy to replace it.
Lawmakers close to the pending overhaul described it as a lengthy and deliberative process, aimed to minimizing disruptions for Americans as the nation’s healthcare system changes.
“We have to make sure there’s a very effective transition going forward,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. “I’m hopeful that we can continue to lay out those pieces on a step-by-step basis through this year.”
“The devil is always in the details. What does repeal include, and what is the pace of replacement so that we can do it responsibly,” said Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.). “It’s not going to be any kind of one-and-done process. It’ll be work that will go on for a period of time.”
But conservatives in the caucus are clearly eager to get moving on repeal, even as a replacement continues to remain unclear.
“Healthcare will be better and less expensive when ObamaCare is repealed,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), head of the conservative Freedom Caucus. “I believe that.”
GOP lawmakers emerging from the meeting with Trump’s inner circle said no details for a replacement were discussed. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) equated the gathering to a “pep rally” aimed at boosting enthusiasm among Republicans for the job ahead.