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October 17, 2017

Trump says ACA 'is finished,' expects another repeal bill in 2018

Daily Briefing

    President Trump on Monday said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) "is finished," but suggested he might support a bipartisan "short-term fix" that would ensure U.S. residents have access to "good health care."

    Trump encourages lawmakers to pass a bipartisan ACA 'fix'

    Trump in his comments said his decision to cut off the ACA's cost-sharing subsidy (CSR) payments to insurers have pushed Democrats and Republicans to work together on ways to bolster the ACA's exchange market.

    "I believe Republicans and Democrats are, as we speak, working together very hard right now, working together, to do an interim plan, a short-term plan, because ObamaCare is a disaster," Trump said, adding, "The rates have gone up. The premiums have gone up. The deductibles have gone through the roof." 

    According to Politico's "Pulse," Trump over the weekend called Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who in September started work on a bipartisan bill to bolster the ACA's exchanges, and urged the senator to reach an interim bipartisan deal that would fund CSR payments and give states "meaningful flexibility … in providing more choices." Alexander said Trump "wanted to make sure that in this interim period while we're still arguing about the long-term direction of health care, that people aren't hurt."

    Alexander on Monday said he and Murray are working on an agreement that would extend CSR payments "for two years and gives states meaningful flexibility" in how they administer the ACA. According to the Times, a Republican staff member said, "Good progress was made over the last week" toward a bipartisan agreement.

    Separately, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is working on a proposal to fund CSR payments in exchange for certain ACA reforms, Healthcare Finance News reports.

    However, it remains unclear whether Democrats and Republicans will reach an agreement. According to The Hill, Republicans could seek to allow states to opt out of certain ACA requirements, which Democrats worry would weaken patient protections. Marc Short, the White House's director of legislative affairs, said, "I think we're encouraged that there are people talking, but I think that we do have a policy difference."

    Trump says long-term health reform bill could come early next year

    Trump on Monday also said Republicans in early to mid-2018 will move forward with a long-term proposal to repeal the ACA, The Hill reports.

    Trump said Congress will "have the votes" needed to pass the measure, adding that he is confident Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will be able to get the measure passed.

    Trump did not offer any details on the health reform proposal (Mascaro/Bierman, Los Angeles Times, 10/16; Morse, Healthcare Finance News, 10/16; Rampton/Cowan, Reuters, 10/16; Hellmann, The Hill, 10/16; Diamond, "Pulse," Politico, 10/17).

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