Health and Science

President Trump says Obamacare 'is dead,' touts flipping Republicans' no votes to yes for GOP replacement plan

Trump: I am 100% in favor of health plan

Obamacare is "dead," "dead," "dead," President Donald Trump said repeatedly Friday morning as he promised "to take care of people at all levels" with a controversial Republican plan to replace the health-care law.

Trump also bragged about flipping a number of conservative Republican lawmakers from "no" votes on that plan to "yes" votes after meeting with a group of them at the White House.

And he said that the "fantastic" GOP plan pending in the House of Representatives will lead to "bidding by insurance companies like you've never seen before," and new designs for health plans that "nobody's even thought of ... to take care of people."

Despite Trump's claims, the embattled Republican bill, the American Health Care Act, is by no means certain to end up on his desk for signing into law, because of opposition among some GOP lawmakers, whose party holds majorities in both chambers of Congress.

NBC News reported that the hardest-core GOP opponents of that bill were not among the 13 lawmakers from the Republican Study Committee who attended the White House meeting, and that the members of Congress who were there had not been considered firm opponents.

The Washington Post's running tally of more than 60 potential GOP "no" votes includes just two lawmakers at the meeting with Trump, both of whom has expressed serious concerns about the bill as opposed to being firm "no" votes."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who was not at the session, said Thursday that she could not support the bill "in its current form."

And another group of conservative Republican in the House tweeted out their opposition to the bill shortly after Trump spoke.

But Trump on Friday said that the current state of Obamacare necessitates that bill passing Congress.

"Only because everyone knows it's on its last, dying feet, the fake news is trying to say good things about it, the fake media. There is no good news about Obamacare. Obamacare's dead," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office after his meeting with lawmakers.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, speaks during a meeting with the Republican Study Committee, Friday, March 17, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.
Evan Vucci | AP

"And there is no good news about Obamacare. Obamacare's dead."

"Unless we gave it massive subsidies, it's not going to be there," he said. "It's a disaster ... it's on a respirator, and it's about ready to implode."

"Now, we could wait for six months or a year, and let it happen," Trump said. "It's not the right thing to do for the people."

The president said the Republican bill to repeal and replace key parts of the Affordable Care Act "is a great plan."

"And we're going to take care of people at all levels," he said. "So I just want to let the world know I am 100 percent in favor."

Trump pointed to rising premiums on Obamacare plans this year, as much as 100 percent or more in Arizona, as evidence that the health-care law is a failure and needs immediate replacement.

"Obamacare is not an alternative. It's not there," Trump said. "It's dead. Dead."

But former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, speaking Friday on CNBC, said that only 3 percent of customers of Obamacare marketplaces saw big increases in what they pay for individual plans because they were insulated from the hike by federal subsidies that reduce the price of their premiums.

Sebelius also noted that the Congressional Budget Office earlier this week projected that the Republican bill, if it became law, would lead to 14 million more people being uninsured next year than would be the case if Obamacare remains in place. The CBO said a total of 24 million more people would be uninsured in 2024 under that scenario.

"I don't now how they move [the bill] right now," Sebelius said. "I think the numbers are pretty terrible."

"What they're projecting is that a lot of older, lower-income Americans who won't be Medicaid eligible ... will be priced out of the market, and that is a pretty terrifically bad swing in this country, where older Americans will take the brunt of the plan, poorer Americans will take the brunt of the plan, and the richer and healthier will continue to be fine."

Sebelius said: "I"m not sure what the Republican goal is. And they seem to have done a pretty good job of making everybody unhappy."