President Donald Trump elaborated Saturday on his call to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday to discuss reviving health care legislation, saying he’d like to strike at least a “temporary deal,” although he did not provide details on what such an agreement might entail.
“Well, if we could make a deal, at least on a temporary basis — because Obamacare is exploding, it’s gone, the premiums are through the roof, you see what’s happening,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “So if we could make a temporary deal, because ultimately we’re going to have it back to the states, we’re going to block-grant back to the states, but if we made a temporary deal, I think it would be a great thing for people. But it’s really up to them.”
“Obamacare is a disaster, the numbers are out, it’s exploding like I said it would,” Trump continued. “So, basically, if we could do a one-year deal or a two-year deal, as a temporary measure, you’ll have block-granting ultimately to the states, which is what the Republicans want, that really is a repeal-and-replace.”
Trump was referring to Republican plans to convert some open-ended federal funding for Obamacare and Medicaid into a fixed amount that would be sent to states as block grants. GOP lawmakers have said this would give states more control over the program and bring health care choices closer to patients.
Trump tweeted Saturday morning that he called Schumer on Friday to talk about reviving health care legislation.
“I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill,” Trump wrote. “ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!”
Schumer said he told Trump that Democrats would be open to suggestions on how to revamp aspects of the existing health care system, referring to a bipartisan effort led by Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and ranking member Patty Murray of Washington to develop a plan to stabilize Obamacare.
“The President wanted to make another run at repeal and replace, and I told the President that’s off the table,” the New York senator said in a statement about the call. “If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions. A good place to start might be the Alexander-Murray negotiations that would stabilize the system and lower costs.”
A Democratic aide with direct knowledge of the call said it would be difficult to progress with negotiations while the Trump administration takes actions to undermine the law, citing new rules that would roll back the Obamacare mandate that birth control be covered with no co-pay as a preventive service.
“Particularly after the birth control decision yesterday, the administration has to stop sabotaging the law before anything real can happen,” the aide said.
Trump has shown an openness to striking deals with Democratic leaders, siding with them last month on a short-term debt limit increase that was attached to disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Republicans have made several failed attempts to pass an overhaul of Obamacare, most recently through legislation proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
Axios first reported the Friday phone call, saying Trump telephoned Schumer.
Trump’s health care tweet came in a series of Twitter posts in which the President also largely railed against late-night talk show hosts and television news coverage, saying he and the GOP should be given “equal time.”