Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act continue among Republicans in Congress, and President Donald Trump reaffirmed in an interview his belief that healthcare reform must be on the docket before tax reform, another of his major campaign promises.
Trump sat down with Fox Business in an interview that aired Wednesday morning and said that although healthcare remains his current legislative goal, he won’t wait forever to turn to tax reform. He maintains that Republicans must tackle healthcare first, as savings from that effort will help pay for tax cuts to ensure both plans are budget neutral. He didn’t offer a deadline for the party to settle on a healthcare plan.
“Healthcare is going to happen at some point. Now if it doesn’t start fast enough, I’ll start the taxes,” Trump said. “But the tax reform and the tax cuts are better if I can do healthcare first.”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at his daily press briefing Monday that it would be a “great opportunity” for Congress to complete its healthcare and tax reform plans before its August recess, but stopped short of a firm timeline.
Trump said in the interview that tax reform would not be as complicated as healthcare reform, which is “very, very difficult.” He also repeated his frequent criticism that the ACA is a “disaster” and that the GOP has a great plan for repealing and replacing the law.
Trump’s reassurances that healthcare is still a priority for the GOP come as the House Freedom Caucus works to develop a bill that would unite the party’s warring factions on healthcare reform. The hard-line conservative caucus was one of the groups primarily responsible for sinking the Republicans’ first attempt to repeal the ACA, the American Health Care Act.
Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told USA Today that the caucus was working with more moderate party members to draft a proposal to submit this week to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. Meadows said that the plan was devised through conversations with the party’s Tuesday Group and would maintain the ACA’s coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
“What we’re trying to do is work through issues that are important to all of us but make sure that pre-existing conditions are taken care of,” he told the publication.
Meadows told USA Today that during the recess he has been in frequent contact with Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence and Tuesday Group co-chairman Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.Y.) about healthcare.