Senate Democrats still don’t support repealing Obamacare, but some now say they are open to helping Republicans put together replacement legislation once it’s gone.
“If it makes sense, I think there’ll be a lot of Democrats who would be for it,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told POLITICO this week.
Congressional Republicans are coalescing around a plan to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in early 2017, but delay the effective date for that repeal for two or three years. That plan would hopefully satisfy long-time conservative critics of Obamacare, while giving Republican leaders time to come up with a workable replacement bill before 20 million Americans currently insured as a result of the healthcare law find themselves without coverage.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confirmed this week that Senate Republicans will look to repeal Obamacare through reconciliation, meaning they can pass it without needing 60 votes. But a substantive replacement package – whatever that looks like – will likely have to earn Democratic votes in the Senate in order to pass.
While incoming Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) is ruling out Democratic cooperation on an Obamacare replacement, there are at least a handful of rank-and-file Democrats in the Senate who are up for reelection in states that Trump won who may have a political reason for working with the GOP.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), for example, told POLITICO this week that he opposes the ACA repeal but is “going to try to help and be productive” on a replacement.
Democratic support will also obviously depend a great deal on what’s in the replacement legislation. Many GOP leaders have recognized there are provisions in the ACA – such as protections for individuals with pre-existing health conditions – that are extremely popular. President-Elect Trump has already said he would like to keep some components of the law in place, including the protections for pre-existing conditions and for young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they turn 26.