Price, Ryan Say Length of Obamacare Transition Still Undetermined

December 8, 2016 at 3:42 pm ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) on Thursday said they are still talking about how long a transition period will last after Congress repeals Obamacare early next year.

“That’s all a matter of discussion, it’s what we’re talking about right now,” Price told reporters Thursday, adding that he hasn’t seen draft language of a budget resolution yet. Price has been named as President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead Health and Human Services.

“It’s just premature to suggest that we know exactly how long this transition is,” Ryan said separately to reporters on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will begin work on a budget resolution, which will include reconciliation instructions to repeal the Affordable Care Act, when the next Congress begins on Jan. 3. The “Obamacare replacement resolution,” as McConnell is calling it, will be the chamber’s first order of business next year, he said.

Price said that time frame is on lawmakers’ minds as they approach the holidays. He said he expects work to be finished on the budget resolution over recess.

The transition timeline is one of the biggest questions about the budget resolution. A reconciliation bill that was vetoed by President Barack Obama earlier this year would have allowed for two years to pass a replacement plan. But some GOP members want a replacement to happen faster, while others are pushing for three years.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said Wednesday he’d prefer three years to draft a replacement. But he noted that House Republicans have advocated for a shorter timeline.

“In the Senate there’s consensus for three years,” he added. “But you know, if we can’t change the House, we may be stuck with just two years. I’d like to get it done before then anyway,” Hatch told reporters.

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