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President-elect Trump campaigned and won promising a full repeal of Obamacare. His campaign website promised “on day one of the Trump administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.” This is entirely possible: The Republican Congress has passed repeal bills before, only to see President Obama veto them. But for the sake of Republicans, they should hope this is a promise Trump does not intend to keep.

Stories of Americans who liked their health insurance policies before they were canceled are powerful, particularly since President Obama promised that, with Obamacare, if you like your plan you can keep it. Insurance market disruption is a big deal, and any major reform should aim to keep it to a minimum. Obama and the Democrats attempted to do this, but failed. The broken promise hung over their heads for the last six years.

Republican plans to replace Obamacare are all going to involve a large measure of industry disruption. Some people who like their insurance plans are going to see those plans canceled. If people who were eligible for the Medicaid expansion currently like their coverage, and the Republicans repeal that expansion, they’ll see their coverage canceled.

The simple fact of Obamacare is that, for all its dysfunction and possible collapse, people do like many different aspects of it. The mandate that insurance plans must cover children until age 26 is popular. The prohibition on pricing based on medical conditions is popular. Certain coverage mandates are popular. The thing about the structure of Obamacare, though, is that almost every part of it must be in place in order for it to function at all. There’s an individual mandate because the pre-existing conditions prohibition wouldn’t work without it. Any attempt to repeal the mandate while leaving Obamacare’s pre-existing conditions neutrality in place is going to make a bad mess even worse.

More people have health insurance now than would have without Obamacare. That insurance may be substandard due to how Obamacare is structured, but a straight repeal is going to leave some people, potentially millions, in the lurch. Republicans need to be very careful with how they approach one of their biggest campaign promises. There need to be safeguards, and Republicans need to be able to build a system in which those who see their insurance lost will have new and better coverage choices.

Otherwise, they’re going to own the same kind of health insurance disruption that sank Obama and the Democrats.

Kevin Glass is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is director of outreach and policy at The Franklin Center and was previously managing editor at Townhall. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

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