As Democrats gear up for a nationwide campaign to try to salvage Obamacare, President-elect Donald Trump says he is putting the finishing touches on his plan to replace the national health insurance plan with a conservative Republican approach that would provide “insurance for everybody.”
It took President Obama and congressional Democrats more than 14 months to negotiate and approve the Affordable Care Act in 2010 without the support of a single Republican. Yet, Trump insists he is already putting the finishing touches on an alternative approach he is confident he can push through the GOP-controlled Congress shortly after taking office on Friday.
Without providing any details, Trump told The Washington Post over the weekend that his approach would further reduce the percentage of uninsured Americans – already the lowest in history under Obamacare – while constraining soaring premiums and out of pocket costs for consumers. The House and Senate late last week voted to begin a budgetary process to repeal key features of the Affordable Care Act that likely will be completed by early next month.
In a bid to ease mounting concerns among rank and file Republicans that the repeal effort could trigger chaos in the private health insurance market and result in millions of people losing their coverage, Trump and congressional Republican leaders have vowed to craft a replacement plan to have ready to go at roughly the same time they repeal Obamacare.
“It’s very much formulated down to the final strokes,” Trump told the Washington Post. “We haven’t put it in quite yet but we’re going to be doing it soon.” He repeated that he is waiting until the Senate confirms his choice for secretary of health and human services, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, before completing work on the proposal, which probably won’t occur until mid-February. But Trump made it clear he will expect congressional leaders to swiftly act on repealing and replacing Obamacare, virtually simultaneously.
“The Congress can’t get cold feet because the people will not let that happen,” he said.
When asked whether he intends to cut benefits for Medicare as part of his strategy for replacing Obamacare, Trump replied “no” – just as he pledged not to cut Medicare or Social Security during the campaign. However, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Price and others have advocated overhauling Medicare and Medicaid and reducing their costs as part of a larger recasting of federal health insurance policies.
Trump also reiterated his intention to target the pharmaceutical industry in a bid to block excessive price increases and to strengthen the hand of Medicare and Medicaid officials in negotiating down the cost of prescription medicine for the elderly and the poor.
While Trump boasted that he and House and Senate congressional leaders were on a fast track to replacing the Affordable Care Act, prominent Democrats held as many as 70 rallies throughout the country over the weekend seeking to block the dismantling of President Obama’s signature health insurance plan that has provided coverage to more than 20 million Americans.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a leading progressive voice and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took part in a rally called, “Our First Stand: Save Health Care” in Warren Michigan.
Sanders said that while there are strong differences of opinion over the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act, “very few Americans believe that we should repeal the ACA without a replacement program to make it better.” He added, “Know we are saying to our Republican colleagues: We will not allow you to throw up to 30 million Americans off of health insurance.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), helped stage a similar rally Sunday at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, while Sen. Kamal Harris (D-CA) headlined another rally in Los Angeles. And a handful of liberal groups on Tuesday will launch a two-month bus tour across the country to seek opposition to the Republican effort to replace Obamacare.