President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress said on Thursday that they will soon unveil plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, providing a timeframe for a legislative goal they have struggled with for weeks. Republicans, who control the White House, the US House of Representatives and US Senate, have long vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act but have had difficulty agreeing on a detailed plan for replacing the signature domestic policy of former Democratic President Barack Obama.
But announcements from Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan claimed progress. “We’re doing Obamacare, we’re in the final stages,” Trump told a news conference. “So we will be submitting sometime in early March, mid-March.” Earlier Thursday, Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill that House Republicans would introduce legislation to repeal and replace Obama’s program after a 10-day recess that begins on Friday.
“After the House returns following the Presidents Day break, we intend to introduce legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Ryan said at his weekly press conference. Presidents Day is on Monday and the House returns on Feb. 27. Ryan spoke shortly after many House Republicans huddled in a closed session with newly-installed US Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to discuss their options to change the 2010 law.
The session was part pep talk and part laying out of talking points that can be delivered to constituents during the recess. Lawmakers left the meeting saying there was plenty more work ahead on thorny issues, including squeezing savings from the Medicaid health plan for the poor and disabled and possibly cutting some healthcare tax credits. Trump’s administration has gone through a succession of controversies since he was sworn in on Jan. 20, while lawmakers labored over Obamacare and tax reform.
Price, who served in the House before becoming HHS secretary, told Republican lawmakers that on Obamacare repeal, “The president is all in on this,” according to a source who attended the meeting. But they do not know exactly what they will be joining forces on.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters there is “a range of options” for giving states more say over Medicaid, an important tool for delivering medical coverage to the poor under Obamacare. Brady said there were options to offset the cost of a Republican plan, such as capping the tax exclusion for employer-based healthcare plans.