The Trump administration can’t keep its health care agenda straight.
On Sunday, Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, confusingly said the administration would soon unveil a proposal for replacing the Affordable Care Act.
“I do think you’ll see a plan here fairly shortly,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”
"We want to run on this,” he continued.
But just last week President Trump announced he’d drop attempts to repeal and replace the ACA until after the 2020 elections, after negative prodding from members of his own party who are still recovering from a 2018 midterms loss driven by health insurance woes. And that about-face came just days after Trump had promised to attack the increasingly popular Obama-era health care program ahead of the presidential election.
The “we” that Mulvaney referred to might be pretty narrow, considering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell definitely doesn’t want to run on health care. But the replacement proposal might just serve as a backup in case Trump’s Department of Justice succeeds in its efforts to assist a lawsuit that would tear down the law and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. (Trump reportedly thinks the lawsuit will fail, and went against the advice of Attorney General William Barr to support it.) Plus, it’ll show Republicans are at least doing something about health care as Democrats build their presidential campaigns around proposals like Medicare-for-All, and paint Republicans as non-sympathetic toward those with ailments like diabetes or cancer.
Mulvaney said that he, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seem Verma had huddled at Camp David over the weekend to discuss health care policy. Trump indicated last week that he’ll hold back on a health care vote until after 2021, but wrote in a tweet that he’d like the proposal on “full display” during the elections.
Trump has convened Republican Sens. Rick Scott, Mitt Romney, John Barrasso, and Bill Cassidy to come up with a replacement plan he can praise. In interviews, the legislators have been noncommittal about their enthusiasm for overturning the law, especially since every Republican-backed plan to replace Obamacare has failed to win enough support in Congress.
Cover: In this Jan. 31, 2019, file photo, Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with American manufacturers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. As the White House grappled with growing Republican defection against President Donald Trump’s use of an emergency declaration to try to build his promised border wall, his acting White House chief of staff wasn’t on the Hill working former colleagues or at the White House making calls. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)