In a CPAC speech, President Donald Trump lauded Republicans' repeal of the individual mandate and took a shot at Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain for his role in a failed rollback of the Affordable Care Act.
Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday that the ACA's individual mandate unfairly punished the uninsured, making its elimination a major victory.
"I know people came up to me with tears in their eyes; they're saying, I'm forced to pay not to have healthcare," Trump said.
The individual mandate was repealed as part of the GOP's tax reform package in December. The successful rollback of the mandate followed multiple attempts at repealing the ACA—either in whole or in part—that stalled in Congress.
Trump said the ACA is being eliminated "piece by piece" instead of all at once, and repeated a claim he's made previously that the individual mandate repeal essentially wipes out the healthcare law.
He said that people may "be better off" with a piecemeal approach to breaking down the law.
Repealing the mandate eliminated a key element of the ACA that was included to push more healthy people in the ACA's insurance exchanges and create a more balanced risk pool, leading to lower premiums. However, it's not tantamount to a full repeal, as experts are divided on how effective the mandate was in accomplishing that goal in the first place—people were more drawn into the marketplace by subsidies on plans, which are still in effect, than the tax penalty, it seems.
Trump echoed similar claims during his State of the Union address, saying the GOP has "repealed the core of the disastrous Obamacare."
The president also took a swipe at McCain, who voted against the Senate's "skinny repeal" in dramatic fashion last summer with a late-night thumbs down gesture.
Trump said he "didn't want to be controversial" by calling out McCain by name, but referenced the gesture.
"Except for one senator, who came into the room at 3 o'clock in the morning and went like that," he said, imitating McCain's thumbs-down vote, "we would have had healthcare, too," Trump said, followed by a chorus of boos aimed at McCain from the conference crowd.
That didn't go over well with some, including McCain's daughter, who called the booing "inexcusable," although former CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt noted that the elder McCain can probably take whatever anyone dishes out.
I doubt there’s anyone that cares less about that than John McCain. https://t.co/uUIU08hP8F— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) February 23, 2018
@mschlapp Love CPAC, but please condemn the booing of Sen McCain and the man who was discussing naturalization. Terrible look for the movement.— Chad Emery (@publicemery1) February 24, 2018
Chad folks were booing his vote to retain obamacare. That's worth a boo https://t.co/WbbT6o9jS8— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) February 24, 2018
Given what my family is going through right now and what my father has given to this country I would expect better from both you and the crowd, Matt. But please, continue making excuses for the inexcusable. https://t.co/5xdZp7z2vM— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) February 24, 2018
Trump spoke at CPAC.— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) February 23, 2018
-He lead crowd in chants of “Lock her up!” against Hillary Clinton. Ironic, considering many of his close associates indicted or have plead guilty.
-He lead crowd in booing John McCain. Pathetic, considering McCain is home dealing w/ravages of brain cancer.
A full video of Trump's CPAC speech is embedded below: