President-elect Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would like to see the Affordable Care Act replaced nearly immediately after it is repealed, weighing in on a contentious debate among congressional Republicans about how to move forward on the issue.
Trump commented on the debate in an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday. He noted that he expects Congress to move forward with an effort to repeal the controversial health-care law widely known as Obamacare soon, and he is not in favor of an extended delay in replacing it, which some Republican lawmakers had proposed in an effort to buy more time to come up with a workable plan.
“I feel that repeal and replace have to be together, for very simply, I think that the Democrats should want to fix Obamacare,” Trump said. “They cannot live with it, and they have to go together.”
Asked how long would be too long to replace the bill, Trump said “long to me would be weeks.”
“It won’t be repeal and then two years later go in with another plan,” Trump said.
Congressional Republicans have publicly mulled plans to replace the bill in two or even four years, giving lawmakers an opportunity to take the provisions of the law piece by piece and accumulate enough support to pass the bills.
Trump also suggested that the repeal process could begin as early as next week. Both of those proposals for the timing of repealing and replacing the law would likely encounter long odds on the Hill.
The president-elect is meeting Tuesday in Trump Tower with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Rep. Tom Price, his nominee for health and human services secretary, and Seema Verma, his nominee for administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to discuss the issue.
Repealing the law and replacing it is a key promise Trump made on the campaign trail that his aides say he intends to keep. But the path forward in Congress has become increasingly difficult, as lawmakers are unable so far to agree on a strategy that would not destabilize the U.S. insurance market or leave millions of people without health insurance.
On Tuesday, Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer insisted that a replacement plan would lower costs and expand choice. Trump’s aides have also said that he would not support a plan that left Americans who currently have insurance without it.
“He’s not only committed to repealing Obamacare, but making sure we do replace it with a plan that does exactly what Obamacare was supposed to actually do, and that is, as I mentioned, lowering the cost for all Americans and doing so in a way that doesn’t limit their access to either their plan or — or their doctor,” Spicer said.