House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress still plans to complete Affordable Care Act replacement legislation this year, though President Donald Trump’s recent comments suggested a slower-than-anticipated timeline for finishing that task.
When asked during an interview this past weekend about when his administration will roll out a new healthcare plan, Trump said, "I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year.” The president previously indicated he wants to almost simultaneously repeal and replace the law.
But in a news conference on Tuesday, Ryan sought to clarify that Congress intends to finish its part of the process in 2017.
“We are going to be done legislating with respect to healthcare and Obamacare this year,” he said. “The question is, how long does it take to implement the full replacement of Obamacare.”
We are going to rescue people from this collapsing law and replace it with something better for patients and families. pic.twitter.com/Dna0nlIpDC— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) February 7, 2017
That step will require the work of federal regulators, he said, which is why it is vital that the Senate confirms Tom Price and Seema Verma, Trump’s picks to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, respectively.
Price, Ryan said during his prepared remarks, will “deliver stability and reinvigorate the marketplace for consumers so that people can have more choices.”
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee responded to Democrats’ boycott of a vote on Price’s nomination by suspending its rules and voting without any Democrats present to send his nomination to the Senate floor. The Senate could vote on his nomination as soon as this week, according to The Hill.
In the meantime, though, HHS has drafted regulations that aim to stabilize the individual marketplaces during the transition between the ACA and its replacement. The House is considering four different bills with similar aims, such as tightening the rules for special enrollment periods and altering the ACA’s rate-banding rule.
During Tuesday’s news conference, Ryan also fielded a question about some of the backlash Republican lawmakers have faced recently from constituents concerned about their party’s plan for the ACA.
“People who are concerned and anxious, we want them to know that we want to listen to their concerns,” he said, adding that Republicans this year are “going to go out and talk about what our plan is, the one we ran on in 2016, and why it’s going to be better.”
Watch the full press conference: