Pence: 'Executive Orders... Will Enable Orderly Transition' After Obamacare Repeal

WASHINGTON – While making the GOP case for repealing the Affordable Care Act today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) emphasized that the Republican-led House won’t “pull the rug out” from anyone currently relying on Obamacare subsides for medical coverage.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence said a “series of executive orders” would help ensure an “orderly transition” to an improved healthcare law.

“Then once we repeal this law, we need to make sure that there is a stable transition to a truly patient-centered system. We want every American to have access to quality, affordable health coverage. All of the things Obamacare has kept from the American people — more choices, more control, more freedom – we want to put them back in their hands,” Ryan said during a press conference alongside Pence on Capitol Hill.

“This law has failed. It’s getting worse. Families are hurting. No one has choices. We’ve got to fix this by replacing it with something better and in that transition we want to make sure we don’t pull the rug out from anybody during that transition – that’s the point we’re all trying to make,” he added.

Pence said the incoming Trump administration plans to repeal and replace Obamacare by working with Congress and using executive actions.

“We’re going to be in the promise-keeping business. The president-elect campaigned all across this country. He gave voice to the frustrations and the aspirations of the American people. He laid out an agenda to make America great again and my message on his behalf today before this conference and before members of the Senate is that we intend to keep those promises,” Pence said.

“We’re working right now, the White House staff is, on a series of executive orders that will enable that orderly transition to take place even as the Congress appropriately debates alternatives to and replacement of Obamacare,” he added.

Ryan reiterated that the GOP does not want to “pull the rug out from people while we’re replacing this law.”

“The point is that in 2017 we don’t want people to be caught with nothing. We want to make sure that there’s an orderly transition so that the rug is not pulled out from under the families who are currently struggling under Obamacare while we bring relief,” he said.

Ryan summarized the status of the repeal process in Congress.

“As you know the Senate is going to be acting first next week then the Congress will follow, which gives us the budget resolution we need to bring the resolution through while the administration works on the executive orders that they are talking about to deliver the kind of transition relief that we’ve been talking about,” he said. “They broke the healthcare system. It’s a string of broken promises so we are going to make sure we have an orderly transition to a better system.”

Ryan called the resolution introduced in the Senate to repeal Obamacare a “first step” to relief for Americans struggling under the health reform law.

“This resolution sets the stage for repeal followed by a stable transition to a better healthcare system,” he said. “Our goal is to ensure that patients will be in control of their healthcare and have greater access to quality, affordable coverage. Today we begin to deliver on our promise to the American people.”

House GOPs introduced their own Obamacare repeal bills on the first day of the 115th Congress.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is proposing a “full, 100 percent repeal of Obamacare” to treat the Affordable Care Act as if it never existed.

“Now that Republicans have control of both the House and the Senate as well as a Trump presidency, we must take swift action to fulfill our promise to we the people and repeal this unconstitutional and egregious law passed by hook, crook and legislative shenanigan,” King said Tuesday. "My bill is the answer to this nightmare: full 100 percent repeal of Obamacare ‘as if such act had not been enacted.’”

The bill has a long history: King introduced “the same magic 40-word repeal bill” the morning after Obamacare passed in 2010.

“I believe Obamacare should be ripped out by the roots,” the congressman said.

King separately introduced another bill to “bar the Supreme Court from citing Obamacare in forthcoming decisions as binding precedent.”

“By prohibiting the Supreme Court from citing ObamaCare cases, we will be truly eradicating this unconstitutional policy from all three branches of government so that the repeal will be complete,” he said. “Furthermore, we must work to restore Article I authority and the Rule of Law by ensuring Congress is the only entity of our government making or changing laws.”

The Republican Study Committee unveiled their American Health Care Reform Act of 2017 to repeal – effective Jan. 1, 2018 – and replace Obamacare.

RSC chairman Mark Walker’s (R-N.C.) office said the bill “levels the playing field between people who receive their insurance through their employer and those who purchase it on the individual market by creating a standard deduction for health insurance,” ensures coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and allows people to shop across state lines for insurance.

“President Obama has consistently and falsely claimed that Republicans don’t have a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Members of the Republican Study Committee, however, have developed and released legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in the 113th and 114th Congresses, and now again in the 115th Congress,” Walker said.

Sponsor Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), a physician, called his bill “a strong conservative vision for the American healthcare system.”

“The American Health Care Reform Act will do the things President Obama promised and failed to do through his health law: increase access to and lower the cost of healthcare,” Roe said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate, and with President-elect Trump and the Trump administration, to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered, free market healthcare reform.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was asked today if he shares the same position as Ryan with regard to an orderly transition to a new healthcare system after repealing Obamacare. In response, McConnell said his priority in the Senate is the president-elect’s nominees for cabinet posts. McConnell was then asked if there would be a long delay between repeal and replacement.

“We’re going to move forward with the Obamacare repeal resolution first,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democratic congressional leaders met with President Obama today to discuss their strategy to protect the Affordable Care Act. Following the meeting, Schumer said, “They [the GOP] can repeal but they have nothing to put in its place and that means so many good things go away.”

Schumer expressed doubt that the Republicans would have the votes to enact an Obamacare replacement.

“I don’t know even know, as Leader [Nancy] Pelosi said, whether they’ll be able to get enough votes in their own caucus for an alternative, and I think they’re going to have a lot of trouble, so I would say they’re going to have far more trouble than they ever imagined,” he said.