President Donald Trump has called on Republican senators to immediately repeal Obamacare and replace it with their own health care plan “later.”
In a tweet posted early Friday, Trump contradicted a previous statement that he will work on repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with better healthcare legislation at the same time. His new stance echoes that of conservative Republican senators, who backed a bill in 2015 that would have dismantled Obamacare without a clear and immediate replacement. The 2015 bill, which was passed by the GOP-led Congress, was vetoed by former President Barack Obama.
In an interview with CBS’ Leslie Stahl for 60 Minutes in 2016, President Donald Trump said that Obamacare would be repealed and replaced “simultaneously,” ensuring that millions of Americans would not have to go without health insurance in the interim.
“It’ll be just fine,” he said.
“We’re not going to have, like, a two-day period and we’re not going to have a two-year period where there’s nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. And we’ll know. And it’ll be great healthcare for much less money. So it’ll be better healthcare, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination.”
Getting rid of Obamacare, the former president’s signature domestic legislation, has been a top priority of Republicans since it was signed into law in 2010. Overturning it was also one of Donald Trump’s main campaign promises, and it has, since January, been a prime concern of both chambers of Congress.
President Donald Trump’s pivot on Friday appears to have been a response to Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), who encouraged him to ask the Senate to kill Obamacare now and work on a replacement later. Trump’s tweet was published shortly after Sasse appeared on Fox News and said that he would send a letter to Trump asking him to urge the Senate to split the Obamacare repeal and replacement into two separate pieces of legislation if the GOP has not agreed on a combined repeal-and-replace plan by July 10.
According to CNN, a Senate aide confirmed that the White House has been working with Sasse’s team to get Trump to publicly express his support for a straight repeal bill. Sasse’s letter and appearance on Fox News were reportedly arranged after both sides became confident that the president would support the notion.
However, Donald Trump’s tweet may have thrown the already faltering Senate GOP health bill into further chaos. CNBC notes that his latest statement may further complicate negotiations and that a straight repeal of Obamacare is not likely to draw the necessary support of GOP moderates, who are concerned about the millions of people who would lose their health insurance.
As of Thursday, Republicans were still in the midst of discussions over issues such as Medicaid cuts, regulations, and opioid addiction treatment funding.
“We’re kind of at a stalemate right now I would say,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R – West Virginia) told Politico.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s tweet sparked an instant backlash on social media.
[Featured Image by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images]