Republicans have been promising to repeal and replace Obamacare since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. Overturning the law is also one of the top items on President-elect Donald Trump's to-do list.
But doing it without plunging the health system into chaos may be easier said than done. More than 20 million Americans now depend on the ACA for health insurance coverage either through subsidized exchange plans or by qualifying for expanded Medicaid, which covers low-income adults in more than two dozen states.
"The bottom line here is the Trump administration owns Obamacare for the next two years," said consultant Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates. "They're going to have to implement it pretty much as it is, because the kind of replacement plan they're talking about is so significantly different, you can't just pull little pieces out of this."
"My sense is they would repeal the subsidies and the Medicaid expansion and make it effective at the end of 2019, and then in the interim come up with some kind of replacement for people who would otherwise lose the coverage," said Tom Barker, co-chair of law firm Foley Hoag's health-care practice, and former advisor to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt during the Bush administration.