With Alternative to Obamacare, Trump Seeks to Make GOP the ‘Party of Health Care’

April 3, 2019 Updated: April 3, 2019

WASHINGTON—In asking Republican congressmembers to come up with a GOP health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump is attempting to take the issue away from Democrats in the 2020 election.

“The Republican Party will become ‘The Party of Healthcare!'” he tweeted on March 29.

At the annual Republican National Congressional Committee Spring Dinner on April 2, Trump said he blamed Republicans’ record on health care for them losing the House in 2018.

“We didn’t have an alternative [to the Affordable Care Act]. We’d just say ‘Uhhhhh lets not talk [about it],'” he said, imitating a politican caught flat-footed.

He then urged Republicans not to “run away” from the issue, saying that if they did, they would get “clobbered.”

“We have the border, we have, if you look at it, immigration, we have a lot,” he said. “[The Democrats] have health care right now. We have to take that away from them.”

He acknowledged that although he wants the GOP to be ready in case something happens to the Affordable Care Act, he doesn’t anticipate getting any legislation they come up with to get passed in this Congress. His plan, instead, is to wrest control of the House from Democrats in the 2020 election and then pass the GOP health care plan into law.

We’ll all promise it’s going to be our first vote because we blew it the last time,” he said, referring to multiple attempts by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, when they were in the majority from 2017 to 2018. 

Central to the Republican replacement of Obamacare is going to be protecting people with pre-existing conditions. This means ensuring that people who have a potentially costly illness can still get health insurance, a facet of Obamacare that has gotten wide public support.

In talking about the necessity of including pre-existing conditions in any new GOP plan, Trump gave the example of a Republican friend running for governor who at one time was up with a 20-point lead, but ended up losing by 20 points “because he wanted to terminate pre-existing conditions.”

“If you don’t support it, you have no chance of winning,” Trump said. “You’re going to have to like it—not only for politics. It’s the right thing.”

One thing Trump and many other congressional Democrats and Republicans hope to work on together in this Congress is lowering the cost of prescription drug prices.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said that he hoped his colleagues would work with the president on what he called Trump’s more “aggressive reforms” on the issue.

Trump has faced attack ads from conservative groups like the American Conservative Union over some of his proposals, mainly the one Murphy says he is most keen on—an International Pricing Index for Medicare Part B drugs.  The pricing index would peg what Medicare pays for certain drugs to prices for those same drugs in 16 other countries.

“I think we should test out Republicans’ willingness to support some of the most aggressive reforms proposed by the president,” Murphy said at an AXIOS event in Washington on April 2. 

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) says he is “very optimistic” something can be done on this front after talking to members of the House, Senate, and the White House. 

“I think that’s the sweet spot that we might be able to find Democrats and Republicans to come together,” he said at the same AXIOS event. “[But] if there is not a legislative fix, I believe there will be multiple executive orders that take place in order to address this.”

From NTD.com

Follow Holly on Twitter: @HollyGailK
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