President Trump says he now understands the complexity of health care, after his party has repeatedly failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now, Mr. Trump claims, the Republican Party is going to be the "party of great health care."
"I mean it 100 percent, I understand health care now, especially very well. A lot of people don't understand it, we are going to be, the Republicans, the party of great health care," Mr. Trump said Wednesday in an Oval Office meeting with the interim first lady of Venezuela, Fabiana Rosales De Guaidó. "The Democrats have, they've let you down, they came up with Obamacare. It's terrible."
Those remarks followed the Justice Department's filing Tuesday of a brief supporting the complete invalidation of the ACA, 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, who was present for the conversation about the challenge to ACA, 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."
"I was there in the meeting and conversation and I've read the different reports, and as participant in the conversations I don't--I wouldn't characterize the way it has been," he told Garrett. "I thought that there was conversations about the legal case in front of us, and I think that there was different opinions expressed. But I think the notion of--of sort of this acrimony or chaos inside, that's not what I witnessed. I think that--that it was a healthful conversation and I think that the president made a decision that everybody got behind."
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 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."
During his appearance with Mrs. Guaido, the president cited rising costs of premiums, saying "people are going broke trying to pay" for their health care costs. He maintained, however, that his administration had "made it better" by "administering Obamacare very well" but still slammed the policy as "horrible no good, it's something that we can't live with in this country."
The shift in the administration's policy, should it prevail in court, could put millions of American's health care coverage at risk and deliver on a signature campaign promise made by Mr. Trump. The Justice Department says that it now agrees with a lower courtthat declared the . That ruling came a year after the GOP's tax bill repealed the ACA's tax penalties for people are are uninsured. The judge in the Texas case ruled the provision was so central to the law, it couldn't stand without it.
Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that the lawsuit is just "phase one" of terminating the ACA. He said he expects the case could reach the steps of the Supreme Court, which has already upheld the ACA twice before.
"If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan that is far better than Obamacare," Mr. Trump vowed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has since slammed the administration's attempts to repeal the ACA as declaring an "all-out war on the health care of the American people."