The wheels of the Donald Trump administration have started turning, and their first stop will be Obamacare.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence told Fox News on Sunday that repealing President Obama’s landmark health care law is the priority.
"Decisions have been made by the president-elect that he wants to focus out of the gate on repealing Obamacare and beginning the process of replacing Obamacare with the kind of free-market solutions that he campaigned on," Pence said.
Incoming Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer pledged opposition from congressional Democrats on any move that could potentially strip more than 20 million people now registered under the act. “We’re not going to repeal or help [Trump] repeal Obamacare,” New York's senior senator countered on ABC’s "This Week."
"So when we oppose Trump on values or this presidency takes a dark divisive turn, we're going to do it tooth and nail," Schumer said.
Only days ago, Trump said he might maintain some of the Affordable Care Act’s more popular features.
But congressional Republicans had already been organizing to repeal large sections of Obamacare with a maneuver via budget procedures as early as January, CNN reported. Voting to replace it completely is a much longer process, possibly taking two years.
Still, Trump could potentially repeal and replace a portion of Obamacare without congressional approval. Repealing the Affordable Care Act completely would require 60 votes in the Senate, which would mean at least eight Democrats would have to go along with it.
The measures that Trump could introduce while Obamacare is still in place would allow people to purchase affordable insurance policies outside of the law’s signature “marketplace.”
Trump’s measures could also include competitive cross-state policy sales, and pre-emptive income tax reductions that might provide some with more money to pay for health care.
"He could change the details of how the marketplaces work," Georgetown University health policy professor Jack Hoadley told NPR. "It's all worked out through regulation. You could just suspend the regulations."