WASHINGTON Dec 7 U.S. Republican senators are
leaning towards a plan to delay the effective date of an
Obamacare repeal for three years, a senior Republican said on
But some conservatives in the House of Representatives think
that is too long to wait for the end of the Affordable Care Act,
as President Barack Obama's signature health insurance program
"In the Senate, there's consensus for three years," Senator
Orrin Hatch, chairman of the chamber's finance committee, told
reporters, saying it could take that long to work out a
replacement for Obamacare. "It takes time to do things around
Republicans in both the House and Senate say they want to
repeal Obamacare early in 2017; it will be the first order of
business in the Senate in January, Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell, a Republican, said on Tuesday.
Donald Trump's election as U.S. president last month means
Republicans will control the White House, Senate and House of
Representatives in 2017. The new Congress goes to work on Jan.
3; Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20.
But Republicans have not agreed on how quickly the Obamacare
repeal should go into effect. A delay would give them time to
work on a replacement, instead of throwing millions of Americans
out of their health insurance with no substitute.
Some House conservatives favor phasing out Obamacare and
getting a replacement within two years, because three years
would not lapse until after the next congressional election,
with the attendant uncertainty about who will be in the majority
"We don't think it's very wise to leave a long-term plan
like that up to a (future) Congress that you can't necessarily
control," said Ben Williamson, spokesman for Representative Mark
Meadows, the incoming leader of the Freedom Caucus, a group of
about 40 House conservatives.
"There is a potential that some members of the Freedom
Caucus might vote against repeal, if the replacement was going
beyond two years," Williamson said.
The Affordable Care Act has provided some 25 million
previously uninsured Americans with health coverage. Republicans
have repeatedly tried to dismantle the law, which they call a
Another senior senator said some Republicans are worried
about whether they will have to raise taxes in three years to
pay for an Obamacare replacement, which could for example
involve tax credits to subsidize health insurance.
"What Republicans could be faced with in three years, is
voting for a tax increase ... and that's not exactly a place
that Republicans relish being," said Senator Bob Corker,
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Bernard Orr)