Health chief to sign up for ObamaCare

Health chief to sign up for ObamaCare
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Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell says she is signing up for ObamaCare.

“I’m going onto the D.C. marketplace,” she told reporters Tuesday, adding that her husband has a preexisting condition that could have prevented them from getting coverage before the healthcare law’s passage.

Burwell’s remarks come amid a heavy push from Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which ranks among President Obama’s most significant domestic achievements.

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The departing HHS chief also said it is “extremely important” Republicans have a backup plan should they scrap existing law.

“We really haven’t seen a plan,” Burwell said of potential ObamaCare replacements. "An outline is not a plan. A framework is not a plan. This is such an important issue that affects millions of peoples’ lives.”

Burwell also warned that Republicans’ desire to merely repeal ObamaCare could trigger massive upheaval in the healthcare insurance marketplace.

“You will have [insurers] pulling out of the market so there won’t be access, so fewer people will be covered,” she said, adding prices will rise. "It is fair to say that it puts the marketplace in that kind of a negative spiral ... in a death spiral.”

Burwell was citing a report released Tuesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) about the potential impact of repealing ObamaCare without a replacement.

The CBO found that such a strategy could leave 18 million people without health insurance within a year. It also estimated that premiums for policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers would increase 20 to 25 percent that year.

Democrats initially requested Tuesday’s report, the findings of which could complicate GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare.

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE and Republican lawmakers have made repealing ObamaCare a top priority for 2017.

Trump and GOP leaders have said a repeal would also come with a replacement plan, though few details have been released on what  a replacement plan would look like.

The president-elect said Sunday, however, his goal is “insurance for everybody,” adding that his ObamaCare alternative is “very much formulated down to the final strokes."