Health and Science

Obama dares Republicans: Give me better health plan and 'I will publicly support repealing Obamacare'

Repealing Obamacare adds to federal debt: CRFB

Put up or shut up.

President Barack Obama on Friday told Republicans they should be willing to present a replacement plan for Obamacare before they vote to repeal it.

And Obama also said he'd be willing to support killing his own landmark health-care law — which has expanded insurance coverage to 20 million Americans — if the GOP offers an improvement.

"I am saying to every Republican right now, if you can in fact put a plan together that is demonstrably better than what is Obamacare, I will publicly support repealing Obamacare" and replacing it with the GOP's plan, Obama told Vox during a live-streamed interview from Blair House in Washington.

"But I want to see it first."

The president defended his effort to provide health coverage to millions of uninsured people.

"If we had a better way to do this, we would have done it," he said, "because I knew I would be judged on how well it worked."

Obama noted that Republicans "have adamantly said they can do it better."

But he said if that's the case, then they should put their cards on the table and reveal the plan before they repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Congress earlier this week began taking steps toward repealing Obamacare, but neither Republican leaders in Congress nor President-elect Donald Trump has put forward a replacement proposal.

"If they're so convinced that they're going to be able to do it better, why is it they're trying to repeal this so quick?" Obama asked. "What is it they're afraid of?"

"Why wouldn't they be eager to say, 'Here is our plan?'"

Also Friday, Obama had an article entitled "Repealing the ACA without a Replacement — The Risks to American Health Care," published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Obama told Vox editors Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff that he is getting letters every day from people who are worried that their ability to pay for their own health care or that of loved ones will be taken away if the ACA is repealed.

The president said if a Republican-crafted replacement plan ""works, I'm for it. If it's something that can cover all Americans, makes sure if they have pre-existing conditions they can still get coverage, keeps prescription drugs afford, and encourages preventative measures."

"It it actually works, I will be the first one to say great," Obama said.

But he added, "I suspect that will not happen."

Obama said he believes that is the case because of the expense of health care, which many people are not able to afford without some kind of subsidy to lower their costs.

The ACA offers such subsidies in the form of tax credits to more than 10 million people who buy individual health insurance from government-run Obamacare exchanges. The law also provides funding to states to expand their Medicaid programs to offer coverage to millions of poor people who previously were not eligible for it.

Obamacare also mandates that most Americans have some form of insurance coverage or be subject to a tax penalty.

GOP leaders have talked about removing the subsidies altogether or lessening the total amount spent on them, and have discussed repealing the coverage mandate.

Insurers worry that if people are not compelled to have coverage and don't get help paying for it, the insurers' bottom lines will suffer because their customer pools will skew heavily toward sick people who need insurance rather than healthier people who use fewer medical benefits.

Health-care experts have said that up to 30 million people could lose coverage if the ACA is repealed without a replacement. Experts also have said that if the GOP crafts a replacement, millions will still lose coverage, although less than one 30-million doomsday scenario.

Click here to link to the Vox stream.

WATCH: Here's how much repealing Obamacare would actually cost: Expert

Here's how much repealing Obamacare would actually cost: Expert