These were fighting words from a wounded party that’s ready to get up off the mat. For years, Republicans have pummeled Democrats with sweeping and questionable claims that the partisan Affordable Care Act is responsible for the entire health system’s rising costs and frustrations. Now Democrats intend to flip the script. “If you break it, you own it,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. The motto of the united Democratic campaign countering the repeal effort is “Make America Sick Again,” a nasty spin on Donald Trump’s winning slogan that foreshadows the battles to come.
Consider such posturing the opening gambit in what is likely to be a months-long negotiation that may eventually bring Democrats to the table. While Republicans have the ability to start dismantling Obamacare as soon as Trump becomes President, a replacement for it remains elusive, complicated by the byzantine marketplace and the rules of the Senate. “They don’t have the votes,” Pelosi said bluntly.
That means Democrats think they have a bargaining chip. Repealing Obamacare without installing a viable successor would "wreak havoc on the insurance marketplace," says Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the law's framers. It would leave as many as 30 million Americans without health care coverage, according to an Urban Institute study, while saddling millions more middle-class families with spiking bills. Hospitals, facing waves