In the waning weeks of President Obama's term, the renewed fight to repeal Obamacare has sparked concern among many Americans watching the drama on Capitol Hill unfurl. Now with a dominant majority in both chambers of Congress and a Republican president come Jan. 20, the GOP has indicated that its priority is to repeal Obamacare, and replace it, though it's not clear with what. On Friday, in a Facebook Live interview with Vox's Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff about the contentious law, Obama said he will support the repeal of Obamacare — on one condition.
Obama said that he welcomed Republicans' input and ideas on how to improve the Affordable Care Act. If they can come up with replacement for Obamacare that's better than it is now, he says they'll have his support to repeal the law in its present form.
"To every Republican: if you can put a plan together that is demonstrably better than what Obamacare is doing, I will publicly support repealing Obamacare and replacing it with your plan," Obama said.
Repealing the ACA without a backup plan would suddenly leave tens of millions of Americans without health insurance, not to mention cause chaos in the health care industry.
The largely-partisan fight over repealing Obamacare has been reignited as Washington, D.C. readies for sweeping change. Although many Republicans have been vocal about Obamacare's flaws — and indeed, it has had many setbacks — the law has not only vastly increased the number of Americans who now have health insurance, it has also fundamentally altered the way medical treatment in the U.S. is rendered.
In a New York Times article exploring how certain health care reforms under Obamacare could stay even if the law is repealed, Robert Pear and Abby Goodnough wrote:
Expanding insurance coverage to more than 20 million Americans is among Mr. Obama's proudest accomplishments, but the changes he has pushed go deeper. They have had an impact on every level of care — from what happens during checkups and surgery to how doctors and hospitals are paid, how their results are measured and how they work together.
"From the moment I first set foot in the Oval Office in February 2009, the president told me that the law can't be just about covering the uninsured, but that it also has to be about changing the way care is delivered," said Nancy-Ann DeParle, who as a White House aide helped lead the effort to pass and carry out the health law. His message, she said: "I don't want to cover everyone and just put them in the same creaky old delivery system."
Obama's challenge to Republicans to find a good enough replacement to justify their longtime criticisms of Obamacare highlights the serious implications in repealing a law that has made a positive impact on the lives of many Americans.
As Obama noted, there are real lives at stake when it comes to the health care debate. And they are worth reaching across the aisle to protect.
Cover image official White House Photo by Pete Souza.