McConnell Tells Trump GOP Not Repealing or Replacing Obamacare

Phillip Cunningham
April 4, 2019

The past week's events have virtually guaranteed that health care would be a core issue in the 2020 election campaign.

"The Republican Party will become the Party of Great HealthCare!"

Lawmakers in both parties were caught off guard by Trump's abrupt decision last week to direct the Justice Department to intervene in a federal-court case seeking to eliminate the law.

Just last week, President Donald Trump promised that any minute now, Republicans were going to produce a plan to solve all the problems in the health care system, one that would be, and I quote, "spectacular".

The following day, Trump boasted that "the Republican Party will soon be known as the party of healthcare".

Republicans wanted no part of a do-over after their failure to replace the law in 2017. Healthcare, especially protections for people with pre-existing conditions, resonates with voters and helped Democrats last November. According to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters nationwide, almost 4 in 10 Democratic voters identified health care at the top of a list of key issues.

McConnell on Tuesday issued a rare public disclosure of his private counsel to the president, warning that another health care fight would be politically costly and doomed to fail now that Democrats control the House.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, whose panel would be central to any such debate, also said last week that there was no plan to move forward. That night, Trump tweeted as much.

On Wednesday morning, Trump seemed to change his mind yet again and said that a Republican health care package would be "on full display during the Election".

On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of NY, held an event outside the Supreme Court urging the Justice Department to reverse its position in the case. The chamber debated the resolution Tuesday. The House plans to vote Wednesday.

Second, and maybe we're getting into the weeds here a bit, but Congress writes laws, not the President. "Americans need to know where their representatives stand".

Democrats mostly campaigned on health care in the 2018 midterm elections, which they won decisively, returning them to power in the House. "What's our plan?" Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said after their meeting. "What a ruse. What a shame".

"The best-laid plans and best of intentions with regard to an overhaul of the health care system in this country run into the wall of reality that it's going to be very hard to get a Democrat House and a Republican Senate to agree on something", added Senate Republican Whip John Thune.

Almost 60 percent of voters said they didn't have a lot of trust or any trust at all in Trump when it came to health care.

At least three Republicans - Maryland governor Larry Hogan, former MA governor Bill Weld and former OH governor John Kasich - are considering primary challenges to the president, but the campaign has already tasked aides with making sure all delegates at next year's convention are committed to Trump.

We've seen this pattern before: Trump blurts out a promise he thinks everyone will like, but it turns out his party has no interest in pursuing it, and eventually the vow just disappears. "But I intend to continue to try to find ways to provide more affordable choices for people when it comes to their healthcare".

McConnell explained to Trump that senators are open to tackling specific aspects of health care - namely, trying to lower prescription drug prices. They had no comprehensive proposal to replace the ACA law and no big plans to unveil one.

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