Repealing and replacing Obamacare will be harder than it looks

The best that Republicans can do is to pass a partial repeal of Obamacare using the reconciliation process, which only requires 51 votes. Republicans did this in January, when they sent to President Obama’s desk the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015.

That bill would have repealed Obamacare’s tax hikes, Medicaid expansion, and insurance exchange subsidies, affecting more than 15 million enrollees. That’s a big deal, because it affects $2 trillion of spending over the next decade.

But critically, the partial repeal bill does not get rid of Obamacare’s tens of thousands of pages of insurance regulations, the regulations that are responsible for the law’s drastic premium hikes.

It may be that those premium hikes helped elect Donald Trump on Tuesday. So it would be ironic if that’s the part of Obamacare that a President Trump couldn’t repeal.