When the 115th Congress convenes in early January, they'll waste no time before launching an assault on key parts of President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law.
A bare-bones budget resolution acting as a vehicle to dismantle the Affordable Care Act will get a House floor vote the week of Jan. 9, according to a memo from Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, CQ Roll Call reported.
That means the Senate could take up and pass the budget resolution during the prior week.
“They are eager to prove they are capable of governing and keeping their promises,” said John Gorman, a former CMS official who is now a healthcare consultant in Washington.
GOP leaders are committed to repealing the ACA and plan to do so through an expedited budget reconciliation process that requires a simple majority vote in the Senate.
That process would allow Republicans to strip funding for major parts of the healthcare law, like the cost-sharing subsidies, Medicaid expansion and premium stabilization programs. GOP leaders have also signaled they will ax the mandate requiring people to enroll in health coverage as soon as possible.
Budget reconciliation bills can only include provisions with a budgetary impact and that do not raise spending, so there would likely be a delay—possibly by as much as three years—before Republicans implement a plan to replace the ACA.
Healthcare industry leaders warn that delaying a replacement plan could cause the individual insurance market to collapse and endanger hospitals that would provide uncompensated care for the 20 million people who would become uninsured once the ACA is nixed.
Many industry leaders have urged the incoming administration under President-elect Donald Trump to put transition period policies in place to keep the individual market afloat in the meantime. For instance, industry lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans has warned against repealing the cost-sharing subsidies. It is unclear whether the GOP leaders plan to retain any key ACA provisions.