On January 8, President Obama vetoed the bill that would repeal significant parts of the ACA and defund Planned Parenthood for a year. On its face this just seems like another pointless repeal attempt by the GOP, (as they have tallied over 50 attempts at this point). However, this one needs to have an asterisk beside it.
The reason this one is different is because it actually made it to President Obama’s desk to get vetoed. Why that means something is because most prognosticators believe that Republicans will keep the House and the Senate in the 2016 election so only the White House is really up for grabs. While Republicans probably won’t have a veto-proof majority in 2017 (just like they don’t now), this proves they don’t need one to get at least a version of repeal to the president’s desk. So if the president in 2017 is Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Bush (insert name here), then they have proven they will be able to get a bill to repeal significant portions of the law through budget reconciliation to their desk.
If you aren’t familiar with budget reconciliation or the politics of the situation the below article does a good job explaining it. In summary, it only requires majority approval in the Senate, and it allows the majority to avoid a filibuster to get it through. Interestingly enough, budget reconciliation was actually the same way the Democrats were able to get the ACA through when it was originally signed into law back in 2010.
When Paul Ryan was asked why there was no alternative to the ACA provided with this bill, his answer was “Just wait”. He now has his committee chairmen working on an alternative option. This was just a dress rehearsal, and it was successful for the GOP. They are hoping for a final performance in early 2017 that would be a huge blow to the ACA as we know it today.