Trump slams Affordable Care Act, touts replacement in meeting with health insurers

This screenshot depicts President Donald Trump holding a meeting on Monday with health insurance executives at the White House.

In a meeting on Monday with leaders from several major health insurance companies, President Donald Trump heaped criticism on the Affordable Care Act while promising a replacement that will improve upon the healthcare law.

Leaders from Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, Aetna, Anthem and Kaiser Permanente attended the meeting at the White House, which was closed to reporters after Trump and the executives’ initial remarks.

Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish—whose company has taken an active role in lobbying lawmakers about the ACA since the election—commended the Trump administration’s draft regulations aimed at stabilizing the individual marketplaces. Daniel Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross, echoed that point.

“We were thrilled with the initial steps to stabilize the market,” he said.

Trump told the insurance leaders in attendance that the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements were responsible for driving up prices and forcing some insurers to exit the exchanges, saying "the market is disastrous." While he didn’t offer many details on an ACA replacement, he touted reforms such as expanding health savings accounts and allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.

“I’m asking Secretary [Tom] Price to work with you to stabilize the insurance markets and to ensure a smooth transition to the new plan,” he said. Later, he said jokingly to the executives that “if things aren’t working out, I’m blaming you anyway.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans, which also had representatives in attendance, said in a statement following the meeting that the discussion revolved around how to “deliver both short-term stability and long-term improvement” to the healthcare system.

Yet despite Trump’s repeated claims that an ACA replacement is coming soon, he’s largely left it up to lawmakers to work out the thorny details on healthcare policy—even as congressional leaders themselves face intraparty dissent.

Indeed, Trump said in a press briefing on Monday that “nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.”

Meanwhile, governors who met on Capitol Hill this past weekend saw a presentation that outlined how the GOP’s policy proposals would slash state funding and coverage levels. Given such high stakes, some admitted they hadn’t yet reached a consensus on a way forward.

Watch Trump's full public remarks: