President Donald Trump suggested again Monday that Republicans could hurt themselves politically by trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, saying the GOP may be better served letting it fail on its own.
Key House Republicans and the White House have pushed the American Health Care Act, a bill to replace the landmark Obama administration law, also known as Obamacare. Trump and key congressional Republicans have repeatedly promised to roll back the law and made it a priority at the start of the new administration.
The party faces a possible backlash as millions of people could lose health care under the plan. Trump on Monday echoed his earlier sentiment that letting the ACA fail on its own could prove more politically wise for Republicans.
"The Republicans, frankly, are putting themselves in a very bad position — I tell this to (Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price) all the time — by repealing Obamacare," Trump said during a White House session with people he called "victims" of Obamacare. He argued that the system would eventually implode, and said letting it do so is "certainly an option" though not one he likes.
With his comment, the Republican Trump appeared to draw a distinction between himself and Republicans in Congress. Still, White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted Monday that Trump supports the House proposal.
"The president is fully committed to this plan," Spicer told reporters in his daily briefing. He added that the White House is willing to work with skeptical lawmakers to "enhance the bill."
The House proposal as it stands faces a tough road to passage. Democrats already oppose efforts to repeal the ACA. Some moderate Republicans senators have criticized the bill's provision that rolls back the ACA's Medicaid expansion, while conservatives have raised concerns that its tax credits too closely resemble the current system.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office score of the proposal may further complicate the legislation. The CBO estimated that 14 million more people would be uninsured next year under the plan than under current law.
That number would rise to 24 million in 2026 largely due to changes to Medicaid enrollment.
The report said the plan would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion from 2017 through 2026.