President-elect Donald Trump has promised to make getting rid of ObamaCare a priority—but he's not going to be able to simply summon the Affordable Care Act to the boardroom and tell the law it's fired. Instead, experts say repealing and replacing the ACA is a process that could easily take a year or more, and it's very likely that parts of it will survive. Scientific American reports that with Republicans in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, but without a supermajority in the Senate, the party will likely use the "budget reconciliation" process to kill off as much of the health care law as it can, using a method that can't be thwarted by a Democratic filibuster.
"Through budget reconciliation, it is possible for them to repeal and replace the bill entirely" by cutting off funding to parts of the system, analyst Ana Gupte tells NBC News. "They could choke off the blood supply to ObamaCare." But the process will have to wait until there is a budget, and repeal may not reach Trump's desk until late next year, with a replacement coming later still, experts say. In other coverage:
- Analysts tell USA Today that popular parts of the law are likely to survive, including the ability to keep children on their parents' health insurance until they're 26. But bipartisan agreement will be tough, since Democrats don't want people to think they're getting rid of ObamaCare—and Republicans don't want people to think they're improving it.
- The Washington Post notes that earlier Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare included a two-year transition period before the law changed, to give health care companies plenty of time to adjust. If they were "unable to agree in two years on what will take its place, that is the nightmare scenario" that will leave millions without coverage, says Harvard School of Public Health professor John McDonough, who helped craft the law.
- Politico predicts a long and complicated battle ahead, with ObamaCare advocates promising "total war" to defend the law, and GOP leaders expected to take "big and bold" action.
- For now, nothing has changed, though confusion about the law's future is growing. "This administration is going to continue to make a strong case that people should go to HealthCare.gov, consider the options that are available to them, and sign up for health care," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.
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