Trump’s pronouncements on the Obamacare repeal-and-place effort are falling into a familiar pattern: They generally point the party in the right direction–toward repealing and replacing at the same time and covering as many people as possible–without offering enough specifics to be very helpful. Trump’s latest comments via the Washington Post definitely fall in this category:
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. …
As he has developed a replacement package, Trump said he has paid attention to critics who say that repealing Obamacare would put coverage at risk for more than 20 million Americans covered under the law’s insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion.
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump said. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” People covered under the law “can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”
A couple of things: 1) Republicans should care whether people have health insurance or not; 2) Insuring everyone is not realistic; 3) If Trump is near completion of a replacement plan, it is news to Capitol Hill and everyone working on this issue on the outside.
In a CBS interview, Sean Spicer seemed to indicate that what is meant by insuring everyone is really giving access to insurance to everyone:
He was also asked to address Mr. Trump’s claim to The Washington Post that his plan to replace Obamacare will include “insurance for everybody.”
“His goal is to make sure that everybody’s got health care,” Spicer said, adding that the plan would provide greater accessibility to the marketplace, more competition and would drive costs down. “Not only are they going to have greater access, but they’re going to have greater choice.”
In response to Trump’s emphasis on repealing and replacing at the same time, congressional leaders have begun to talk the same way, even though their plan hasn’t changed — it remains partial repeal with only small steps toward replacement right away. I’m guessing this latest Trump statement will be absorbed the same way, with congressional Republicans focusing on the issue of access and arguing that they are on the same page as Trump on that. In other words, congressional Republicans will remain on their current path on the assumption that it is in accord with Trump’s guidance, which assumes (perhaps wrongly) that what Trump is saying shouldn’t be taken literally, or even too seriously.