Trump says health care plan could come as early as March

Health care spending in US expected to jump: CMS

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he hopes to submit health care reform as soon as early March, giving a timeline to a key promise that has hit some stumbles in the first weeks of his administration.

"We're doing Obamacare, we're in the final stages," Trump told reporters at the White House. "So, we will be submitting sometime in early March, mid-March."

Trump maintained that Republicans will address efforts to repeal and replace predecessor President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, before they get to tax reform. Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan gave a more optimistic timeline, telling reporters the GOP will introduce a repeal and replacement bill sometime after Congress returns from a recess next week.

Republicans have faced a complex process in agreeing how to roll back the law, a key target of Trump's ire on the campaign trail. Repealing it without a replacement in place risks leaving millions without health insurance.

Taking action this year may mean repealing only parts of the law rather than the whole thing. Press Secretary Sean Spicer previously said the GOP will use a process called reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes in the Senate rather than 60, for ACA legislation. It allows the bill to pass more easily but Congress could not fully repeal the law.

Spicer said Republicans will use fiscal-year 2017 budget reconciliation for health care, then address tax changes through fiscal-year 2018 reconciliation.

Trump said Thursday that "for statutory and budgetary reasons we have to submit health care sooner" than tax reform.

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