While President Trump has vowed to take up his campaign promise to once again repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the president appears to be delaying those efforts, at least for now. Mr. Trump tweeted Monday night that a vote on Republican's revitalized effort to reform the ACA would be held "right after the election when Republicans hold the Senate and win back the House."
"It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America. Also, Republicans will always support Pre-Existing Conditions. The Republican Party will be known as the Party of Great HealtCare (sic). Meantime, the USA is doing better than ever & is respected again!" he added.
Just three days earlier, however, Mr. Trump made it sound as though he had a plan ready for Congress to replace the ACA, telling reporters at the White House, "We are going to have a plan that's so much better than Obamacare."
His change of heart may have come about after he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Monday afternoon. McConnell told reporters that in a "good conversation" with Mr. Trump, "I pointed out to him, the Senate Republicans' view on dealing with comprehensive health care reform with a Democratic House of Representatives -- so I made it clear to him, we were not going to be doing that in the Senate."
"We'll not be doing comprehensive in the Senate," McConnell said.
The Senate majority leader said he doesn't think it's likely the Supreme Court will strike down the ACA "any time soon."
"There's no point in pushing a panic button," he said. "The court system takes a long time to resolve these issues."
The president said that he had tasked Republican Sens. John Barrasso, Bill Cassidy, Rick Scott "and others to take a look" and "form a really great plan."
"They are going to work together and come up with something that's really spectacular. Maybe we'll even get support in the House from Democrats. But it's going to be far better than Obamacare. If we win on Obamacare, it will be terminated in the court. And we'll see what happens," he said.
Those remarks followed the Justice Department's filing last week of a brief supporting the complete invalidation of the ACA. The move was a departure from its previous stance that the individual mandate, requiring most Americans to carry health insurance, should be stricken down, but the rest of the law, including the protections for pre-existing conditions, should remain in place.
There were reports that several top administration officials had been at odds over the Justice Department's brief. However, when Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short was asked about this by CBS News' Major Garrett, he denied that there had been much "chaos," and characterized the discussion as "a healthful conversation."
One of the criticisms of the legal approach to dismantling the ACA has been that there's a sense that Republicans have not introduced a viable plan to replace the Obama-era law. Garrett asked Short whether such a plan exists. Short said that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar could come up with a plan in the coming months, adding, "But we also believe that this court decision probably wouldn't reach the courts for another--'til probably summer of 2020."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who previously slammed the administration's efforts to repeal the ACA as an "all-out war" against the health care of Americans, said on Tuesday that the president's blueprint for health care "is like [Richard] Nixon's secret plan" for the Vietnam war.
"They're not gonna pass it until after the 2020 election, and he can view it from Mar-A-Lago all week," she added.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders maintains that the president "wants to work with Congress to come up with the right health care plan."
"The things that I know that he's focused on are making sure that we protect preexisting conditions, that we lower the cost that we make it more affordable, and top and foremost is that we have to allow patients to have a say in the care that they receive. It is a complete and total contrast to what you're seeing the Democrats put forward right now," Sanders added at the White House on Tuesday.