President Trump said Tuesday that he was “proud” to support House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, asserting that his party was committed to seeing the plan through.
"Obamacare is collapsing," Trump said in remarks at the White House to Republican lawmakers responsible for building support for the plan in Congress. “It’s in bad shape, and we’re going to take action. There’s going to be no slowing down, there’s going to be no waiting and no more excuses by anybody.”
Trump said the proposal was consistent with guidelines he had set out for long-elusive goal of undoing the law, President Obama’s signature piece of domestic legislation, and seemed undaunted.
“It's a complicated process, but actually it's very simple; it’s called good healthcare,” Trump added.
The president’s strong vote of confidence came after his health secretary and top spokesman offered somewhat conflicting assessments as to the extent of the administration’s support for the House plan.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price declined to directly say that the proposal had the full support of the Trump administration, while rejecting a reporter’s question about whether it was fair to call the plan “Trumpcare.” His preferred moniker was “patient care.”
“This has been a work in progress,” Price told reporters at the White House, noting that congressional Republicans began working on a repeal long before Trump was elected. “The administration supports … what we believe is in the right direction.”
Pressed as to whether the administration supported everything in the legislation, a printed copy of which sat beside him, Price again called it “a work in progress” and that the administration would continue to work with lawmakers.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who addressed reporters after Price, offered more fulsome praise.
“This is the Obamacare replacement plan that everyone has been asking for, the plan that the president ran on, and the plan that will ultimately save the system,” he said.
But Spicer, too, was reluctant to put the president’s name on the plan.
“We’re less concerned with labels right now and more in terms of action and results,” he said.
Price, formerly the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a medical doctor, would not commit to reporters that consumers would be able to keep their current doctors if the plan were passed, whether it would provide insurance at a lower cost, or that it would not add to the nation’s deficit. On each point he said simply that those were the administration’s goals.
“We're gonna go in a direction that empowers patients and holds down costs,” he said.
Price also said he was unfamiliar with a provision of the legislation that would offer a tax break for insurance executives making more than $100,000 a year.
Enacting the legislation was just one facet of the administration’s plan, Price said, adding that his department would be making regulatory changes within its own authority, and also that subsequent pieces of legislation would likely be needed to address other aspects of the health system.
Members of Congress who met with the president said that they left feeling assured they had his full commitment to see the legislation to the finish line — and seemed eager to ensure the public was clear they were working in tandem with the White House.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Trump told the group he was “all-in.” Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) said Trump asked them to make sure all House Republicans knew he supported the plan “in detail” and in the form it was filed. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) described Trump as “110% committed to helping us get this bill into law.”
“The president made it very clear: this is his bill, and there are no excuses,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), a top architect of the law.
Spicer said the White House would be engaged in a “comprehensive strategy” to promote the legislation in public, one that began Tuesday with an array of administration officials promoting it in local and national media.
“We expect to be dealing with this for the next several weeks,” he said. “There will be plenty of opportunities for the president to speak about that, to engage with the public.”