Trump says he discussed taking hands off Obamacare to hurt Democrats in 2018

Trump: Our legislative work starts with repealing and replacing Obamacare

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he talked with House Speaker Paul Ryan about waiting to scrap the Affordable Care Act but ultimately decided against it.

Trump campaigned on repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama's health-care law, and Republicans and Congress have put it at the top of their agenda. Trump said he believes that waiting could have hurt Democrats politically ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, suggesting that the law would fail on its own amid rising costs.

"It's a disaster. I actually talked with Paul and the group about just doing nothing for two years and the Dems would come begging to do something. ... We have to take care of the American people so we can't wait," Trump told lawmakers at a GOP retreat in Philadelphia.

"We're taking them out of a big jam, big jam. We're putting ourselves at risk to a certain extent because we're taking it off their platter. But I think, congressmen, I think we have no choice. ... We have to get it going. I'm serious if we waited two years it's going to explode like you've never seen an explosion. ... That's politically what we should do but we don't want to do that."

Trump and Ryan have pointed to rising pre-subsidy premiums as evidence that the law is failing. However, removing the law without a replacement plan could leave tens of millions of Americans without health insurance, risking blowback to Republicans if they repeal it without a viable alternative.

On Friday, just after his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order directing the secretary of Health and Human Services and others to "exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay" any provision of Obamacare that would impose a fiscal burden. The measure was considered largely symbolic.

Republican senators on Monday introduced a partial replacement that would allow states to keep some aspects of the law.

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