Obama, Pence get ready for health care overhaul


Washington - Donald Trump warned congressional Republicans on Wednesday against letting Democrats dodge blame for problems with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, even as the GOP-led Congress takes initial steps toward dismantling the law.

"Massive increases of ObamaCare will take place this year and Dems are to blame for the mess," the president-elect said in three tweets, using the statute's nickname. "It will fall of its own weight - be careful!"

Trump's advice came as Obama was meeting congressional Democrats at the Capitol to discuss how to combat the Republican drive to repeal much of his health care overhaul.

Leading defender

Vice President-elect Mike Pence was meeting separately with House Republicans to discuss the best way to send Obama's cherished law to its graveyard and eventually rally behind legislation to replace it. He planned to have lunch with GOP senators.

In his tweets, Trump blamed the statute for high deductibles, premium boosts and poor coverage and wrote that Democrats "own the failed ObamaCare disaster."

He added, "Don't let the Schumer clowns out of this web." The new Senate minority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, has been a leading defender of Obama's 2010 overhaul.

Trump pledged during the presidential campaign to erase Obama's law, though he's said he wants to retain popular provisions like ensuring coverage for people with pre-existing medical problems.

Obama's and Pence's strategy sessions were coming on the second day of the new, GOP-led Congress.

Trump replaces Obama at the White House in 16 days, putting the party's longtime goal of annulling much of the 2010 health care overhaul within reach.

Plenty of questions remain, including the repeal bill's details, costs and when it would take effect. Republicans also face divisions over the next step - replacement legislation - that will likely take months or years to resolve.

While they can hardly prevent the GOP repeal effort from proceeding, the president and House and Senate Democrats were meeting on Wednesday to discuss how to best defend a law that's extended health insurance coverage to 20 million Americans and which Obama considers one of the proudest pillars of his legacy.

Complete budget

"The more the people understand what's included in the Affordable Care Act and how they benefit from it, the more popular the programme is and the harder it is for Republicans to have political support for tearing it down," White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters, using the law's formal name.

Republicans eager to show quick action against Obama's health care law took an initial procedural step on Tuesday, introducing a budget bill that would have to be considered under a parliamentary procedure that would prevent Democrats from using a Senate filibuster to protect the health care law.

Republicans control the Senate by a 52-48 margin, but it takes 60 votes to end a filibuster, a procedural roadblock that can kill legislation.

The Senate was expected to complete the budget by next week. House approval would follow.

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