President Barack Obama encouraged Democratic lawmakers to fight for his landmark healthcare legislation during a joint meeting with House and Senate Democrats Wednesday.
As Republicans gear up to repeal Obamacare shortly after President-elect Trump takes office, Democrats are prepping for an uphill battle to keep the Affordable Care Act in place. According to New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, Democrats currently aren’t focused on working with Republicans towards a replacement plan.
“We don’t even think about replacing the law, our job is the save the one we’ve got,” she told reporters, adding that Obama did not make any suggestions specifying how his signature policy achievement could be salvaged. “I think he figures we got this far in the world, to be members of Congress, maybe we know a little about that.”
Repealing Obamacare was one of the major Republican pledges during the course of the election, culminating in the party taking back the White House, in addition to keeping the majority in both chambers of Congress. With premiums soaring to record highs mirroring the failure of ailing Obamacare co-ops, GOP lawmakers are repeatedly calling for Congress do away with the legislation completely and start fresh.
Despite the Republican push for a change in direction, Democrats continue to tout the ACA as a success.
“We had three goals: one was to lower costs, the other to improve benefits and the third to increase access,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters. “In all three of those arenas the Affordable Care Act has been a big success.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia echoed Pelosi’s sentiments, telling reporters Obama’s comments on the progress made resonated within his party.
“I think the president very thoughtfully reflected on his eight years, he saved the economy, he saved the auto industry, he saved real estate, he saved the banking industry, he’s created 15 to 16 million jobs and tens of millions of Americans now have health care that did not have it eight years ago,” he claimed. “Republicans essentially are trying to dismantle that.”
Connolly said one of Obama’s main messages to Democratic lawmakers was to make sure Americans know who is responsible if GOP lawmakers are able to successfully repeal Obamacare.
“He told us to go out there and fight, fight for the people who are trying to have decent health care,” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland added.
Slaughter said Republicans had their chance to influence the legislation while it was being crafted, slamming GOP members for saying Democrats didn’t work on health-care reform in a bipartisan manner.
“It went through so many committees in the House where Republicans has a chance to affect every piece of that health-care bill, and they simply didn’t do it — so the notion that was behind closed doors and in the middle of the night is total nonsense,” she said, noting they passed the bill without one Republican vote.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with Congressional Republicans Monday, telling reporters the “first order of business” is to repeal and replace the law.
Republicans are still configuring a plan to replace the ACA, but maintain it will lower out-of-pocket costs and increase access to care.
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