As top Republicans on Wednesday touted a swift Affordable Care Act repeal, President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders hit back with fiery rhetoric that detailed not only their resolve to fight for the law, but the consequences that could come with its demise.
In a closed-door meeting with Democratic lawmakers, Obama urged them not to “rescue” their Republican colleagues by helping them replace the ACA, saying they should borrow resistance tactics from the conservative Tea Party, according to CNN. He also suggested Democrats start calling the GOP’s new plan “Trumpcare.”
In comments to the press after their meeting with Obama, prominent Democrats including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer characterized the president’s message as “inspiring.”
“The first big fight of this new Congress will be over healthcare,” he said, adding that Republicans are plotting “full-scale assault” on three pillars that support American healthcare system—the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid.
Both Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, enumerated the harm that could come from repealing the ACA, pointing out that the potential for insurance market chaos could even affect those who have employer-sponsored insurance.
“Studies show that if Republicans in Congress rush to dismantle our healthcare system, people across the country are going to pay more,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said, adding, “It shouldn’t have to be said that that’s the wrong direction for our families and for our economy."
Indeed, an analysis (PDF) released Wednesday by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that repealing the ACA in its entirety could cost as much as $350 billion through 2027. Another analysis from the Urban Institute estimated that even a partial ACA repeal could increase the number of uninsured by nearly 30 million.
Speaking to congressional Republicans Wednesday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence promised an ACA replacement that will improve the healthcare system. But Democrats said they are far from convinced.
“The Republicans say repeal and replace—the only thing that has going for it is alliteration,” Pelosi said. Since the GOP has no replacement plan, its idea to repeal and delay means “we don’t really know what we’re doing,” she argued.