President Donald Trump outlined a pair of contradictory priorities
for replacing the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, suggesting that
he's willing to let Congress undo a decision he has been boasting
about since Thursday.
The president bragged during a Rose Garden press conference with
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that he had ended 'hundreds of
millions of dollars a month' in Obamacare-related subsidies to
medical insurance companies.
Then he said he would support the passage of a bipartisan compromise
in the U.S. Senate that would restore them.
Shortly after the presidential press conference, Republican Sen.
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of
Washington announced that they have reached a deal doing just that.
Hours later, Trump told an audience of conservatives that he
commends the bipartisan effort but continues 'to believe that
Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of
providing bailouts to insurance companies.'
Taking a slap at the other party in the process, Trump said at the
Heritage Foundation dinner, 'I'm pleased that Democrats have finally
responded to my call for them to take responsibility for their
Obamacare care disaster and work with Republicans to provide much
needed relief to the American people.'
He did not mention his own role in the fiasco over the subsides to
the organization's donors.
Of the subsidies, known as Cost Sharing Reduction payments, Trump
said earlier on on Tuesday that some in Congress had urged him 'to
continue to pay this,' but 'I said I'm not going to do it.'
Trump tweeted Tuesday evening that premium spikes – which have been
occurring but were expected to rise after he pulled subsidies for
insurance companies who provide plans to low-income Americans – were
the 'fault of the Democrats.'
'Any increase in ObamaCare premiums is the fault of the Democrats
for giving us a "product" that never had a chance of working,' he
Ultimately, he said, he favors a long-term repeal-and-replace
solution that sends block grants to the states instead of managing
insurance markets from the Department of Health and Human Services.
'Essentially that would be the plan,' the president said. 'Yes.
He added that 'we really feel we have the votes' to secure passage
of that long term arrangement.
But getting from the status quo to his ideal, Trump claimed minutes
later, could require the Alexander-Murray bill to 'get us over this intermediate hump.'
The legislation would only be in effect for only two years, but
would restore the payments that Trump ended just days ago. It would
also states some added flexibility in which kinds of insurance
policies are Obamacare-compliant.
'It is a short term solution so that we don't have this very
dangerous little period,' he said, 'including a dangerous period for
insurance companies' – the same corporate titans that he blasted in
the press conference's opening minutes.
'If you look at insurance companies and take a good strong look at
the numbers, you will see since the formation of Obamacare, they are
up 400 per cent, 450 per cent, 250 per cent, 300 per cent. They've
made a fortune,' he said
'Obamacare is everything but dead. The people aren't gonna take it,'
And the Alexander-Murray bill would 'not only save money but give
people much better health care with a very, very much smaller
In signaling support, Trump said his administration had been
involved in talks as it was hammered out. Alexander presented the
proposal to colleagues at a Republican conference meeting in the
Capitol on Tuesday.
Even if Trump were to formally back the final product, it would have
to make it through hurdles in Congress.
It would be subject to a filibuster in a Senate chamber where many
Republicans are strongly opposed to Obamacare and have tried and
failed repeatedly to repeal it – something Trump also supports.
In the House, a deal that appeared to be saving Obamacare could draw
strong conservative opposition, in a chamber where more than 60
Republicans voted against a recent hurricane relief bill.
The insurance industry, a major player in the Capitol, can be
expected to back it.
'We think it's a good solution and it got broad support when Patty
and I talked about it at the Democratic caucus meeting Tuesday,'
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer said at the
He explained that it represented 'growing consensus that in the
short term we need stability in the markets. ... The president has
been sabotaging this bill and the agreement would undo much of that
Sen. Murray, too, said Trump has taken steps 'to sabotage health
care in our country,' and suggested that ending the CSR payments
would force consumers, not insurers, 'to pay the price.'
This morning Trump pronounced the Obamacare system 'virtually dead,'
'a disgrace to our nation' and on its 'last legs.'
'We are solving the problem,' he added.
He had boasted Monday of ending the payments, saying during a
cabinet meeting that 'I cut off the gravy train.'
Trump told members of Heritage's president's club Tuesday evening
that he would eventually get rid of the 'disaster known as
Claiming once more that he expected Republican lawmakers to send a
repeal and replace bill to his desk on Jan. 20, his first day in
office, Trump said it was 'not as easy as we thought.'
'But we're gonna get it done, you watch,' he asserted.
Dems & the media want Trump to be more like Obama, but then he'd
have to audit liberals & wire tap reporters' phones.