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‘Protect Our Care’ group plans to push back against repeal of health law

WASHINGTON — Supporters of the 2010 health care law will launch a political coalition Friday to block its repeal. They’re targeting Republican lawmakers whose constituents may now be at risk of losing health insurance.

The initial goal is to stop Congress from repealing the law without simultaneously passing a replacement for some 20 million people covered through subsidized private health insurance and expanded Medicaid.

Called “Protect Our Care,” the group brings together organizations that helped pass the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

On the list are the NAACP, liberal advocacy groups like Families USA and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Service Employees International Union, which represents many health care workers, and the Center for American Progress, a think tank closely aligned with the Obama White House.

Coordinating the group’s activities will be Leslie Dach, a former Wal-Mart executive responsible for public policy and government affairs who also was a top adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in the Obama administration.

“Repeal and Delay is no better than repeal. American families deserve to know what will happen to them before Congress acts,” the coalition said in a statement.

Republicans, who are considering first voting on repeal and then passing a replacement later, say their goal is a smooth transition to a system that will provide access for all Americans with fewer government requirements. The effective date of the repeal legislation would be delayed by months or years to give lawmakers time to figure out a replacement. But after six years trying to undo President Barack Obama’s signature law, Republicans have not reached consensus on what their replacement would look like.

“It is highly irresponsible to move forward with repeal alone,” said Ron Pollack, head of Families USA, and an organizer of the coalition.

A recent poll found that only about 1 in 4 people want President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal the health law. The post-election survey by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation underscored the nation’s deep political divisions over health care. Thirty percent want to expand what the law does, 26 percent want it completely repealed, 19 percent say it should be implemented as is, and 17 percent say it should be scaled back.

The poll found some skepticism about repealing the law first and replacing it later. Forty-two percent of those who want the law repealed said lawmakers should wait until they figure out the details of a replacement plan before doing so.

A study earlier this week estimated up to 30 million people would be at risk of losing coverage, because a repeal-only approach could destabilize the entire health insurance market for people who don’t have job-based coverage, not just those who buy their policies through HealthCare.gov.

Republicans say there’s no turning back for them.

“Obamacare isn’t fixable,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas said in a recent interview. But he added that Republicans want a replacement that provides affordable health care, and will allow an appropriate transition period.

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