Republicans won the first skirmish in the Obamacare fight Wednesday, voting to begin debating fast-track budget procedures that, if successful, would allow the GOP to kill the 2010 health care law without having to face a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. The 51-48 vote, on the second day of the 115th Congress, underscores how serious Republicans are in making good on their repeal pledge. But it also signaled that Democrats are just as committed to defending the Affordable Care Act.

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While the average estimate shows nearly 21 million people have benefitted from Obamacare, it’s important to note that some people currently enrolled in Medicaid could have enrolled in Exchange coverage with nearly full subsidization had their state not expanded Medicaid, and would likely be eligible for whatever new subsidy structure might replace the current system. Regarding those in the Individual Market, not all of these individuals are receiving subsidies and would therefore not be financially impacted by the repeal. Making reasonable assumptions and accounting for those who lost insurance because of the ACA, and setting aside any assistance that would be provided by ACA replacement policies, the number of people who, on net, are potentially at risk of being negatively impacted is likely closer to 13-14 million.

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House Republicans say they aim to send an Obamacare repeal bill to the White House by Feb. 20, following a meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

“We want to have the budget on the president’s desk by the 20th,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) said Wednesday after a House GOP conference meeting that Pence attended. “We’re going to be working to hit those benchmarks, and the pace of work is going to change significantly around here.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s staff pushed back on that timeline after the meeting, saying it was incorrect.

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On January 3, 2017, Judge Margaret Sweeney of the United States Court of Claims certified Health Republic Insurance Company v. United States as a class action. This is one of more than a dozen cases that have been brought by insurers in the Court of Claims challenging the failure of the government to pay marketplace insurers amounts that they claim were due to them under the ACA’s risk corridor program. The class includes:

All persons or entities offering Qualified Health Plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the 2014 and 2015 benefit years, and whose allowable costs in either the 2014 or 2015 benefit years, as calculated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, were more than 103 percent of their target.

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President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence both paid a visit to Capitol Hill Wednesday, in the first formal engagement over the future of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans finally have the power to repeal, but the question is whether they have the grit to replace ObamaCare.

Mr. Pence told Republicans that repeal and replace is the Trump Administration’s “first order of business,” while Mr. Obama ordered Democrats not to “rescue” the GOP by helping to pass a “TrumpCare replacement.” Going by his business background Donald Trump won’t mind putting his name on a health-care plan, or anything else, but Republicans need to appreciate the reality that they will soon own ObamaCare. Until they pass a coherent and market-oriented substitute, as a political matter ObamaCare is TrumpCare, like it or not.

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Vice President-elect Mike Pence will rally House Republicans Wednesday morning on a plan to repeal Obamacare, POLITICO has learned — a counter-punch to President Barack Obama’s visit to the Hill the same day.

Pence will meet with the full House Republican Conference to talk about the party’s plan to dismantle Obama’s signature health care law, according to a House Republican leadership aide. The meeting is House Republicans’ first of the new Congress, which kicks off Tuesday.

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Zeke Emanuel, one of Obamacare’s architects, tells NPR that there is possibility for bipartisan health care reform in replacing Obamacare. “I understand that the president-elect, Donald Trump, wants a bipartisan bill. He really does I think genuinely want a bill and a health care system that works for all Americans, that achieves universal coverage, no preexisting disease exclusions. And I think therefore there is some ray of optimism that we could actually get a compromise bill…The bill would have to construct both the repeal part but simultaneously the replacement part. And I think if you do it that way, you could begin to negotiate with Democrats.”

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In less than three weeks’ time, when Donald Trump becomes our next president, he will take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

It is fitting, then, that Trump has committed to repealing and replacing one of his predecessor’s most infamous unconstitutional policies, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But he won’t be able to do it alone. Repealing Obamacare requires Congress to write legislation for the president to sign into law.

Congress can and should do this in January, before Inauguration Day. There is no excuse not to.

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My colleague Avik Roy has suggested that passing a full Obamacare replacement (as opposed to a partial replacement passed via reconciliation) might be possible even though it would require Democratic votes to obtain the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, and that a pre-condition to achieving that would require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score the replacement as covering at least as many people as the Obamacare does.

As if to give a warning shot across the Republican bow, the officially non-partisan CBO warned that it “would not count those people with limited health benefits as having coverage” when evaluating changes to the health care law, and that changes to the “essential health benefits” required under the ACA could result in people receiving tax credits to help pay for health insurance under a new law, but being counted as not having health insurance according to the CBO, if the coverage they have doesn’t meet the CBO’s requirements. At issue, basically, is “What is health insurance?”

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