President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday laid out a timeline for the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, in his first press conference since he was elected, arguing that Republicans are helping Democrats by replacing it immediately.
Trump said that the law is collapsing on its own, citing increases in premiums in particular states for ACA exchange-based plans.
Trump said that instead of letting the law fail and having Americans beg Trump to repeal the law, which he said would make Democrats look bad, he plans to repeal and replace Obamacare soon after he takes office and Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee is confirmed.
“They own it right now. So the easiest thing would be to let it implode in 2017 and, believe me, we’d get pretty much whatever he wanted. But it would take a long time,” Trump said.
“We’re going to be submitting, as soon as he is approved, we’ll almost simultaneously — shortly thereafter — have a plan. It will be repeal and replace. It will be simultaneously,” he added.
Trump told the New York Times on Tuesday that he wants the ACA repealed “within days,” but the comments from the press conference appear to set a slightly longer timetable. Price’s confirmation hearing will be held January 18.
Additionally, a bill currently in the Senate to repeal significant parts of the ACA through the budget reconciliation process has set a January 27 deadline for committees to produce a repeal bill. GOP leaders have also discussed delaying the law even further until a full replacement bill can be created.
Trump also insisted that the burden of Obamacare would remain on Democrats, echoing remarks by GOP leaders that the law is failing. Democrats have said that the law has its problems but needs small changes in order to protect the positive from the ACA — such as the expanded coverage for more than 20 million Americans.
“Obamacare is the Democrats problem,” Trump said. “We are going to take the problem off the shelves for them. We’re doing them a tremendous service by doing it. We could sit back and let them hang with it. We are doing the Democrats a great service.”
The Department of Health and Human Services reported on Tuesday that more than 11.5 million have signed up for ACA-based plans so far in this open-enrollment period, higher than any other enrollment period in the ACA’s history.