Rushing to repeal Obamacare

Congressional Republicans are in a huge hurry to purge the nation of Obamacare. They're racing against a self-imposed Jan. 27 deadline to craft legislation to euthanize the 2010 law.

Early Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 51-48 to set the demolition in motion. The U.S. House is expected to vote Friday.

These leaders act as if millions of Americans are clamoring to have their Obamacare coverage yanked away as soon as possible.

That's absurd. Many Americans are disappointed and disillusioned by Obamacare. They seek affordable health care that covers the doctors and hospitals they choose. But they aren't demanding that the law be scrapped in a frenzied legislative rush before a better plan is in place.

The deadline that Congressional Republicans have set for themselves isn't a mission from the electorate; it's political grandstanding. Of Americans who favor Obamacare repeal, only 2 in 10 favor ending the law and working out the details of a replacement plan later, according to a recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.

Many people fear a return to pre-Obamacare days, when insurers could bounce people from plans — or refuse to sell them insurance in the first place — for pre-existing medical conditions.

Americans — including many Republicans — favor some of Obamacare's key protections and benefits. They like that Obamacare allows children to be covered by their parents' insurance plan until age 26. They favor an Obamacare provision that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on a person's pre-existing medical condition.

There is wide support for Obamacare premium subsidies for low- and middle-income people. And for the health insurance exchanges in each state.

But Americans don't like Obamacare's soaring insurance premiums and steep deductibles. Or that many doctors and hospitals aren't covered under plans available in their states.

At a news conference Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump predicted that 2017 would be "catastrophic" for Obamacare. He said Republicans would repeal and then replace the law with new provisions "mostly on the same day or same week, could be the same hour."

Then he added: "It's very complicated stuff."

Yes, Obamacare is complicated. The law invades every aspect of America's health care industry — doctors, hospitals, clinics, Medicaid and Medicare. It can't be swiftly unraveled with the swish of a presidential pen. It has to be carefully dismantled while a replacement is prepped to fill in.

We're no fans of Obamacare. We've backed Republican ideas to create an alternative that would be more affordable, with greater access and flexibility.

Republicans have had years to construct that alternative. We can't understand why one is not ready to go right now.

The demand for health insurance coverage remains strong. Roughly 11.5 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare coverage this year, a slight uptick from last year. Millions more have coverage under a Medicaid expansion authorized by Obamacare. Even more people likely would buy coverage if it were affordable and if it provided benefits they sought, not those that government told them they had to have.

That's your mission, lawmakers (Republicans and Democrats). Build a health plan better than Obamacare.

You don't have to get it done fast. Just get it done right.

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