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Health & Spirit

Republicans are set on repealing health care law, despite some senators' qualms

Lesley Clark, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Health & Fitness

Democrats warn that it will be impossible to keep the popular parts without the unpopular, chiefly the requirement that most Americans have insurance or pay a penalty.

Republicans have been unable to forge agreement on a health care plan alternative since Obama pushed through the legislation in 2010 with only a single Republican vote. But Senate Republicans said Tuesday talks are underway with the incoming Trump administration and the House to find an alternative. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., suggested the repeal vote could be followed by several proposals as Republicans look to overturn parts of the legislation that they don't like while keeping provisions they support.

"You might see this thing in a very step-by-step way, as opposed to having one huge, 2,700-page bill," Thune said, a reference to the size and complexity of the 2010 legislation.

Trump insisted Tuesday that his fellow Republicans act promptly to carry out his campaign promise. He told The New York Times that he wants a repeal vote "sometime next week" to be followed by a vote on a replacement "very quickly or simultaneously."

He told the Times he would "not accept a delay of more than a few weeks," which aligns with some of McConnell's schedule.

But the House Freedom Caucus has expressed worries that the budget measure fails to offer specifics about how Republicans plan to replace Obamacare.

The caucus wants the replacement to go into effect during the 115th Congress, meaning it should take no longer than two years.

Other Republicans have suggested transition periods that could take as long as three years.

And senators suggested the Jan. 27 deadline in the House resolution for two Senate committees to put the proposals into legislative language may be malleable.

"If it's the 28th, it's not the end of the world. If it's March 1, it's not the end of the world," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "But we ought to be moving with all deliberate speed."

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