Republicans are about to play a game of chicken with 20 million Americans' healthcare.
GOP lawmakers are planning to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, in 2017 but delay the implementation of the roll back by three years in order to draft a replacement, according to reports from Politico.
Republicans have long wanted to repeal the ACA, and now with Donald Trump headed to the White House, they'll likely get their wish.
The problem is that many parts of the law — such as the provision that insurers can't deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition —are popular with Americans and nearly 20 million have gotten access to health plans through the ACA.
To avoid political repercussions from doing away with the law's popular aspects, GOP lawmakers, with the support of the Trump administration, are planning to set a three year timeframe on a repeal and replacement of the ACA, according to Rachel Bade and Burgess Everett at Politico.
The clock set by the Obamacare repeal law would, much like the so-called "fiscal cliff" in 2013, put pressure on lawmakers to compromise on a new healthcare bill If no compromise is found, the repeal would happen and leave the 20 million people currently with ACA-based insurance without coverage.
The thinking is this would put impetus not only on Republicans to streamline various replacement proposals out there, but also put political pressure on Democrats to sign on to a replacement or put 20 million out of coverage. It also allows Republicans to pin any failure to pass a replacement on Democrats for not going along with their plan.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Politico the three year delay makes sense because "a date certain that something’s going away … you know you have to have something done."
Republicans can repeal the parts of the law dealing with the budget, such as funding for the Medicaid expansion and state exchanges, immediately with only a simple majority vote.
Of note, this would also push the repeal date past the midterm elections in 2018, avoiding any political fall out if a replacement is not found in time.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Trump's promise to repeal Obamacare on "day one" may come with some caveats.