Senate Minority Leader-elect Chuck Schumer of N.Y. speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP)

Sen. Chuck Schumer won't work with Republicans if they want to kill Obamacare: "They broke it, they own it"

Schumer said Democrats will not participate in replacement if the GOP pushes to gut health care


Taylor Link
December 8, 2016 2:58AM (UTC)

In the fallout of the election, leading Democrats were criticized for not providing a clear future. On Wednesday, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer challenged that, revealing the party is going to fight like hell to keep the social safety net.

In an interview with The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, Schumer said that if Republicans repeal Obamacare without a replacement, “They will own it.” The senator explained: “Democrats will not then step up to the plate and come up with a half-baked solution that we will partially own. It’s all theirs.”

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Senate Republicans have already announced their intentions for repealing Obamacare. President-elect Donald Trump appears to be on board. Trump appointed Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Price, a former orthopedic surgeon, has been a vocal critic of Obamacare and has even drafted a comprehensive bill that would thoroughly do away with the law.

But for all the effort the GOP has put in to repeal Obamacare, they do not seem to have a replacement plan in place. Moreover, Republicans have not even agreed on a date for the repeal to kick in, as some members of the GOP hope to delay the repeal until after the 2018 elections.

Sargent posits that Republicans are hoping Democrats will make some concessions when replacement time comes because, at that point, millions would have lost their health insurance. Right now, Republicans prefer a plan that covers far fewer people. Schumer indicated on Wednesday that Democrats would refuse to support any replacement that falls significantly short of the Affordable Care Act.

“The odds, after they repeal without any replacement, of us sitting at the table to do something that will chop one arm off instead of two is very small,” Schumer said. “They’re giving us tremendous leverage.”

Delaying the repeal of Obamacare will likely cause a big mess. Health insurers could pull out of markets before the repeal kicks in, leaving millions uninsured prior to the official repeal. If repeal-and-delay does cause chaos in the markets, Schumer said that Democrats will not rescue the Republican Party. “They broke it, they own it,” he said.

“All the problems in the health care system that they blamed on Obamacare will now be in their laps.” Schumer said. We’re going to make sure that we are saying things that would have been a lot better had they been thoughtful and careful and worked with us to fix Obamacare.”

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Taylor Link

Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

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