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Obama on Obamacare: If GOP Replacement Is Better, I'll Support It

Mary Caffrey
During an interview with Vox that was simulcast by the White House, President Barack Obama reviews where his signature law is working, where it isn't, and why Americans should demand to see what a replacement would look like.
President Barack Obama said Friday he would support a Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), if it can be shown to be superior to the current law.

But, he said, repealing the ACA without a replacement plan is a “disservice to the American people,” who do not support repealing the law without knowing what will come next.

“If, in fact, there’s going to be a massive undoing of what’s one-sixth of our economy, the Republicans need to put forward very specific ideas on how they’re going to do it,” Obama said during an interview with Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff of Vox.

“If they’re so convinced they can do better, they shouldn’t be afraid to make that presentation,” the president said. “It’s really interesting to figure out why they are trying to rush the repeal so quickly.”

Obama asked, “What is it that they’re afraid of?”

The president said he would have no problem supporting a replacement plan that solves problems with the current law, and he would encourage other Democrats to do the same. But he would want to see certain elements: such as retaining the ban on denying coverage for preexisting conditions, ensuring the Medicaid and Medicare work properly, and making sure rural Americans have good access to care. And he would want an independent third-party to verify that the GOP replacement is superior.

The ACA, he said, has brought coverage to 20 million people and extended the life of Medicare by 11 years, but the more important victories are in the letters Obama receives from Americans who got a mammogram in time to catch treatable breast cancer, or whose child was able to get drug treatment. 

“If you can put a plan together that is demonstrably better than what Obamacare is doing, I will support your plan, but I want to see it first,” he said.

Obama’s wide-ranging interview on his signature law came the same day that the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll showed that three-quarters of Americans do not support repealing the law without a replacement in hand, including 47% who don’t want a repeal, period. Despite this, the Senate voted Wednesday 51-48 to start debate on a budget resolution that could set an ACA repeal in motion.

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