Top House Democrats gave more clues Monday about how they’ll fight GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare, sharing enrollment figures and stories about Americans saved by the health care law, ahead of President Obama’s visit Wednesday.
Obama makes the trip to Capitol Hill in his final weeks of office and as the Republican-controlled Congress plans to start repealing ObamaCare the day GOP President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
“Whatever the circumstance, health wise you are financially better off” with ObamaCare, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Monday on a conference call with reporters.
She was joined on the call by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and other top Democrats on key committees to tout ObamaCare’s successes in reducing Americans’ health costs and increasing their access to better care -- while sending warning shots about the perils of dismantling the 2010 law.
Pelosi and Hoyer argued that at least 20 million Americans would lose their health insurance, in part subsidized by the federal government, and chided Republicans for having no immediate plan to replace the law, more formally known as the Affordable Care Act.
“Understand, repeal and delay is an act of cowardice,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.
Said Hoyer: “Republicans’ repeal and delay plan is code for repeal without an alternative. … The truth is they have no alternative to replace it. … Their plan is to turn back the clock, make Americans unhealthy again, perhaps.”
In a sign of things to come, the lawmakers talked about Americans who were financially saved by ObamaCare, including a man who developed heart problems upon starting his own business and a woman who needed the insurance while helping put her husband through college.
Obama will hold a closed-door meeting with congressional Democrats about his signature plan, created to lower health care costs for all Americans by trying to cut down on emergency care and other uninsured medical expenses.
However, insurance premiums continue to increase for many on ObamaCare, in large part the result of fewer-than-expected healthy people enrolling and insurance companies dropping out.
Pelosi spoke by phone last week with fellow House Democrats about plans to defend ObamaCare and raised concerns about Republicans’ plans to change entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
She encouraged members to hold events to talk with voters about the kind of statistics and anecdotes discussed Monday.
Also on Wednesday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence will rally with House Republicans about their plans to dismantle ObamaCare, a GOP leadership aide told Fox News on Monday.
With Trump coming in as president, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to begin the repeal effort this week through a process known as budget reconciliation.
Democrats now have little chance of stopping the process with Obama heading out of office. But Republicans, after years of putting repeal legislation on Obama’s desk, must now come up with a better, substitute plan.
They acknowledge needing two to perhaps four years to complete the process.
Trump and fellow Republicans say they want to keep the good parts of ObamaCare, like allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plan.
But Democrats are already warning about potential chaos in the health care system if the law is repealed and not immediately replaced.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Joseph Weber contributed to this report.
Mike Emanuel currently serves as chief congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1997 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.