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Obama: Obamacare “repeal and delay” is “a huge disservice to the American people”

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

President Barack Obama defended the need to keep Obamacare in place unless Republicans can lay out a better plan first — or risk far-reaching, negative consequences.

“This strategy of repeal first and replace later is a huge disservice to the American people,” Obama said in an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff, saying that repealing Obamacare would be so disruptive that rushing the repeal without putting forward plans is irresponsible.

“If there’s going to be a massive undoing of one-sixth of our economy, the Republicans need to put forward very specific ideas of how they’re going to do it,” he said, and “let the American people gauge whether this is going to result in something better than what Obamacare has produced.”

Obama’s biggest concern, as other policy wonks and some Republicans worry, is that repeal and delay would have immediate, destabilizing effects on the health insurance marketplace, even if the repeal didn’t take effect for years. Insurers would flee the marketplaces. Premiums would spike. And Americans in some areas would likely not be able to buy coverage at all because there would be no insurers selling in their area.

“What I think you’re going to see is — now that we have a Republican president-elect and Republicans control both chambers in Congress — is that all of the promises they made about how they can do it better, cheaper, and that everyone is going to be satisfied are going to be really hard to meet,” Obama said.