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Bye bye, Obamacare: Congress' repeal offensive will begin this week

From our colleague Misty Williams:

A top Republican on Tuesday launched the opening salvo in the GOP’s mission to strike down the Affordable Care Act.

Wyoming Republican Mike Enzi, who heads the Senate Budget Committee, introduced a resolution that will kick off the process to officially repeal Obamacare.

“Americans face skyrocketing premiums and soaring deductibles,” Enzi said. “Insurers are withdrawing from markets across the country, leaving many families with fewer choices and less access to care than they had before – the opposite of what the law promised.”

The measure, which will require 51 votes to pass, is largely a symbolic one. Senate committees will still need to author legislation that will actually repeal the 2010 health care overhaul. That process will begin in the weeks ahead and is expected to wrap up by the end of the month. It's expected to take more than a year for the GOP to come up with a replacement plan.

Supporters of President Barack Obama’s health care law warn that repealing the sweeping legislation without having a plan to replace it could strip millions of Americans of their insurance and threaten the stability of the country’s individual insurance market.

In 2016, nearly 588,000 Georgians enrolled in Obamacare plans through the law’s health insurance exchange. The exchanges are aimed at individuals and families who don’t get coverage through their employers.

Roughly 85 percent of Georgians with these plans qualify for tax subsidies, based on their incomes, to help make buying insurance affordable.

Nationwide, federal officials reported last month that exchange enrollment for 2017 remained strong and ahead of last year’s pace despite concerns about Obamacare’s future.

In Georgia, just over 352,000 people have selected Obamacare coverage so far -- the fourth highest number among the states on the federal insurance exchange. That’s up about 1.9 percent from the same time last year.

The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution within the next week. The House is likely to vote on the resolution shortly thereafter.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.