Schumer, a Democrat from New York, likened the Republicans to "the dog who caught the bus," saying that they "don't know what to do." He cautioned Republicans against "plain repeal," saying it would have an immediate impact, particularly on rural hospitals.
"Republicans will soon learn that you can't keep the good parts of the ACA and remove the rest of the law and still have it work. That's what they're struggling with. That's why they're not getting anywhere," Schumer said. "What they would do would throw the entire insurance marketplace into chaos, plain repeal."
Schumer called this debate over how to administer health care in the U.S. the "first big fight of this new Congress."
"Republicans are plotting and will soon be executing a full-scale assault on the three pillars that support the American health-care system: the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid. The Republican plan to cut health care wouldn't make America great again, it would make America sick again and lead to chaos instead of affordable care," Schumer said.
Earlier Wednesday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan emphasized that Republicans would create an "orderly transition" between the ACA and the alternative, so as to not "pull out the rug from anybody." Although Ryan said the Republicans have "plenty of ideas" for replacing Obamacare, he didn't specify what those ideas may be.
The Democrats are "telling the Republicans 'If you are repealing, show us what you'll replace it with first and then we'll look at what you have and see what we can do,'" Schumer said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders quoted one of Donald Trump's tweets from May 2015 in which the president-elect pledged to not trim funding for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Promises like these, Sanders argued, were the "cornerstone" of Trump's campaign.
Sanders, an independent from Vermont, called on the president-elect to "come forward, maybe through tweets, one of his tweets, and say clearly that Donald Trump will veto any legislation that cuts Medicare, that cuts Medicaid or that cuts Social Security." By doing so, Trump would save Congress "a lot of time," Sanders said.