Trump says ACA replacement may not come until 2018

President Donald Trump now says that an Affordable Care Act replacement might not be finalized until 2018, a departure from his previous push to repeal and replace the law quickly.

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly asked Trump in an interview on Sunday whether his administration would roll out a new healthcare plan in 2017, to which Trump replied that “maybe it’ll take till sometime into next year, but we are certainly going to be in the process.”

While Trump promised “a wonderful plan,” he noted that “it statutorily takes a while to get." 

"I think that, yes, 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,” he added.

Last month, Trump indicated that his administration will submit an almost-simultaneous repeal and replacement plan as soon as the Senate approves his nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Similarly, House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that in terms of a repeal-and-replace timeline, “our legislating will occur this year.”

The House and Senate have also both passed a budget reconciliation measure that could repeal major provisions of the ACA, and Trump has issued an executive order that instructs federal agencies to ease portions of the law deemed burdensome to various stakeholders.

One agency likely to heed that call would be an HHS controlled by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., Politico reported. Price, who is a staunch opponent of the ACA, could use the same authority the Obama administration granted to its health officials—which allowed them to implement many ACA-related rules—to instead unwind the law.

RELATED: Senate committee advances Price nomination without Dems present

Two of the most likely early targets for Price could be the ACA’s contraceptive coverage mandate and its rules for the essential health benefits that ACA-compliant plans must cover, according to the article.

Some Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, are feeling the heat from constituents who are worried about the repercussions of an ACA repeal, according to the Associated Press.

In respective town halls in California and Florida, Rep. Tom McClintock and Rep. Gus Bilirakis both faced pointed questions about the GOP’s plan for the healthcare law. In McClintock's case, protesters followed him out while chanting "Shame on you!"