ReutersWASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. House of Representatives moved toward a Friday vote to begin dismantling Obamacare despite anxiety among some Republicans they were rushing into a major step without knowing the budget consequences or having a firm idea of how they would replace the healthcare law.
The Republican-led Congress, under pressure from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to act quickly, made the first move toward scrapping Obamacare on Thursday as the Senate voted to instruct key committees to draft legislation to repeal it.
The house planned to vote on the measure on Friday, Speaker Paul Ryan said. Some Republican lawmakers said Thursday they were not sure how they would vote.
“I don’t want to vote for this and say it’s the first step [toward repeal], and find out that there are some long-term budget consequences,” said Republican Representative Mark Amodei.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said earlier this month that repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance law in its entirety would cost roughly $350 billion over the next decade. Republicans say a good Obamacare replacement strategy would reduce government spending, but they have not agreed on a consensus plan.
Amodei said he was leaning for now toward voting for the Obamacare repeal resolution. But he added that “listening to the scuttlebutt on the floor ... as of right now, my impression is, they [house leadership] don’t have the votes.”
The fate of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, is a high-stakes political showdown between Republicans and Democrats that potentially jeopardizes medical coverage for millions of Americans and risks causing chaos in the health insurance marketplace.
Democrats accused Republicans of rushing to scrap Obamacare, a law that has enabled up to 20 million previously uninsured Americans to obtain health coverage, without yet having a firm replacement plan. The Democrats say Obamacare has allowed growing numbers of Americans to get medical insurance and helped slow the rise in healthcare spending.
Republicans have called Obamacare federal government overreach and have sought to undermine it in Congress and the courts since it was passed by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in 2010.