House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) acknowledged Monday that the GOP’s long-held goal of repealing and replacing Obamacare would take time and involve some kind of “transition” to ensure that Americans are not “worse off” after President Barack Obama’s signature health care program is dismantled.
“Clearly there will be a transition and a bridge so that no one is left out in the cold, so that no one is worse off,” Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The purpose here is to bring relief to people who are suffering from Obamacare so that they can get something better.”
The House Speaker recently listed addressing Obamacare as one of his top four priorities for the new Congress, but his comments to the Journal-Sentinel suggest that replacing this complex legislation may not be done quickly.
“It will clearly take time. It took them about six years to stand up Obamacare. It’s not going to be replaced come next football season,” Ryan said.
Ryan told the newspaper that Congress will hold a repeal vote next year, but that what comes next remains unclear.
Some conservative firebrands, like Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), have advocated for repealing the law immediately and then figuring out an alternative plan. Other GOP lawmakers, like Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), have cautioned that a slower approach will be needed.
Health care policy experts previously told TPM that a repeal passed without a replacement bill lined up would cause massive disruption in the insurance industry, harming both Obamacare users and consumers in the broader market.
Ryan rejected their conclusions, telling the Journal-Sentinel that “there is nowhere to go but up with respect to Obamacare,” which is “failing and failing quickly.”
Only one in four Americans recently polled by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation said they want to see a full repeal of the law.
Both Ryan and Trump have both expressed support for keeping popular Obamacare provisions including prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing medical conditions and allowing children to stay on their patients’ health insurance plans until they’re 26. But they have not publicly addressed how the popular Obamacare provisions can be maintained without the less popular provisions that make them possible.