Obamacare repeal began early this morning

Obamacare is in the process of repeal as of this morning but a replacement is not yet ready

Very early this morning the Senate took a first concrete step toward dismantling the Affordable Care Act, voting to instruct key committees to draft legislation repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance program. This is something that the Republicans have been attempting to do, the repealing of Obamacare, for seven years.

Meanwhile, the sign-ups for Obamacare as we near the end of “open-enrollment is at a record 6.4 million customers have gotten their health insurance on the federal Obamacare marketplace HealthCare.gov so far this open enrollment season — topping last year’s pace during the same time period by 400,000 customers.

In Florida, more than 1.6 million people signed up through Dec. 24 — the most of any of the 39 states using healthcare.gov. The Florida demographic breakdown: 891,939 females and 742,675 males, including 111,322 children, 431,771 adults between 18 and 34, 652,605 adults between 35 and 54, and 438,916 older than 55.

Race and ethnicity reporting for ACA exchange customers is voluntary. But when the information is reported, whites far outnumber every other group among Floridians who signed up, with 439,641 identified as Caucasians, 308,767 Latinos, 117,185 African Americans and 60,002 Asians.

That did not keep the Senate from starting the process of repealing the law. The vote  was 51-48 as they move forward on this very complex issue.

The resolution now goes to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on it this week. Scrapping Obamacare is a top priority for the Republican majorities in both chambers and President-elect Donald Trump.

Republicans have said that the process of repealing Obamacare could take months, and developing a replacement plan could take longer. But they are under pressure from Trump to act fast; he said on Wednesday that the repeal and replacement should happen “essentially simultaneously.”

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Some 20 million previously uninsured Americans gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Coverage was extended by expanding Medicaid and through online exchanges where consumers can receive income-based subsidies.

Republicans have launched repeated legal and legislative efforts to unravel the law, criticizing it as government overreach. They say they want to replace it by giving states, not the federal government, more control.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said this week he wants to pack as many replacement provisions as possible into the legislation repealing Obamacare. But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, also a Republican, said this could be difficult under Senate rules.

The resolution approved Thursday instructs committees of the House and Senate to draft repeal legislation by a target date of January 27. Both chambers will then need to approve the resulting legislation before any repeal goes into effect.

Yesterday, at his press conference President-elect Trump addressed the issue. Trump said he would submit a replacement plan as soon as his nominee to lead the Health and Human Services department, Representative Tom Price, is approved by the Senate. But Trump gave no details.

Despite no plan being in place the House and the Senate are moving forward. They don’t have the 60 votes needed to pass the repeal measure in the Senate so they are using special budget procedures that allow them to repeal Obamacare by a simple majority; this way they don’t need Democratic votes. Republicans have a majority of 52 votes in the 100-seat Senate; one Republican, Senator Rand Paul, voted no on the issue this morning.

As Congress moves forward key members of the Obama administration are sound the bell on being cautious.

“The American people don’t want to go backwards,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Department Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who cited analysis that has projected up to 30 million people would lose coverage if Obamacare were to be repealed without a replacement plan in place.

Some quotes in this story came from the ASSOCIATED PRESS and the video CNN

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.