Pressure from both sides of the aisle to delay repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan ready seems to be working as House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday the GOP will do its best to create a replacement concurrent with repeal and that lawmakers will be given time to craft that plan.
Faced with criticism from healthcare industry leaders about the drastic effects of repealing the ACA without putting anything in its place, along with the political concerns of removing coverage for up to 30 million people, Republicans have tempered their statements about immediate repeal.
President-elect Donald Trump is pushing for swift action, contradicting the wishes of some in his own party.
Trump told The New York Times on Tuesday that he wanted a repeal vote "probably some time next week." He also said "the replace will be very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter."
Trump said a delay would mean "weeks" at most. But Republicans in Congress appear nowhere near a deal.
Immediately after being sworn in, Republicans introduced a budget reconciliation bill to repeal the ACA, although it left many details about what exactly would be done to be filled in later. The budget reconciliation process requires only a simple majority of votes but it is restricted to dealing with issues that directly affect federal spending and revenues.
Five GOP senators have said they will not support repeal unless a new plan is in place. On Monday night they submitted an amendment to the budget reconciliation bill that would give committees more time to come up with a replacement. They proposed extending the deadline from Jan. 27 to March 3.
"Repealing President Obama's healthcare law and replacing it with a responsible alternative is a top priority, and by exercising due diligence we can create a stable transition to an open healthcare marketplace that provides far greater choice and more affordable plans for the American people,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-La.) said in a statement.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he agreed with Trump's mandate to include replacement along with repeal. Hardline conservatives who created the Freedom Caucus have also spoken out against repeal without replace.
Senate Democrats held the floor late Monday night, speaking for several hours about the benefits of the ACA and why they are strongly opposing repeal.
“Some of the biggest numbers in enrollment in the Affordable Care Act aren't in states represented by Democrats,” Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said. “They're in states represented by Republicans. And this mythology that the Affordable Care Act hasn't worked or that it's in some death spiral, it's just political rhetoric. It's not true.”
The Obama administration reported Tuesday that 11.5 million people have signed up for coverage on the ACA marketplaces, an increase of nearly 300,000 compared with the same period last year.
Trump is meeting Tuesday with transition officials about health care.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.