Trump vows ‘insurance for everybody’ in Obamacare replacement plan

Trump vows ‘insurance for everybody’ in Obamacare replacement plan

President-elect Donald Trump said in a weekend interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of “insurance for everybody,” while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.

Trump declined to reveal specifics in the telephone interview late Saturday with The Washington Post, but any proposals from the incoming president would almost certainly dominate the Republican effort to overhaul federal health policy as he prepares to work with his party’s congressional majorities.

Trump’s plan is likely to face questions from the right, after years of GOP opposition to further expansion of government involvement in the health-care system, and from those on the left, who see his ideas as disruptive to changes brought by the Affordable Care Act that have extended coverage to tens of millions of Americans.

In addition to his replacement plan for the ACA, also known as Obamacare, Trump said he will target pharmaceutical companies over drug prices.

“They’re politically protected, but not anymore,” he said of pharmaceutical companies.

(Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

The objectives of broadening access to insurance and lowering health-care costs have always been in conflict, and it remains unclear how the plan that the incoming administration is designing — or ones that will emerge on Capitol Hill — would address that tension.

In general, congressional GOP plans to replace Obamacare have tended to try to constrain costs by reducing government requirements, such as the medical services that must be provided under health plans sold through the law’s marketplaces and through states’ Medicaid programs. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Republicans have been talking lately about providing “universal access” to health insurance, instead of universal insurance coverage.

Trump said he expects Republicans in Congress to move quickly and in unison in the coming weeks on other priorities as well, including enacting sweeping tax cuts and beginning the building of a wall along the Mexican border.

Trump warned Republicans that if the party splinters or slows his agenda, he is ready to use the power of the presidency — and Twitter — to usher his legislation to passage.

“The Congress can’t get cold feet because the people will not let that happen,” Trump said during the interview with The Post.

Trump said his plan for replacing most aspects of Obama’s health-care law is all but finished. Although he was coy about its details — “lower numbers, much lower deductibles” — he said he is ready to unveil it alongside Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“It’s very much formulated down to the final strokes. We haven’t put it in quite yet but we’re going to be doing it soon,” Trump said. He noted that he is waiting for his nominee for secretary of health and human services, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), to be confirmed. That decision rests with the Senate Finance Committee, which hasn’t scheduled a hearing.

(Alice Li/The Washington Post)

Trump’s declaration that his replacement plan is ready comes after many Republicans — moderates and conservatives — expressed anxiety last week about the party’s lack of a formal proposal as they held votes on repealing the law. Once his plan is made public, Trump said, he is confident that it could get enough votes to pass in both chambers. He declined to discuss how he would court wary Democrats.

So far, Republicans have taken the first steps toward repealing the law through budget reconciliation, a process by which only a simple majority is needed in the Senate. The process would enable them to dismantle aspects of the law that involve federal spending.

The plan that Trump is preparing will come after the House has taken more than 60 votes in recent years to kill all or parts of the ACA to adopt more conservative health-care policies, which tend to rely more heavily on the private sector.

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