Trump Promises ‘Insurance for Everybody’ as Health Law Replacement

JAN. 15, 2017

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump said this weekend that he was nearly ready to unveil a plan to replace President Obama’s Affordable Care Act with “insurance for everybody.”

Mr. Trump, in an interview Saturday evening with The Washington Post, said that health care offered under his plan would come “in a much simplified form — much less expensive and much better.”

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Mr. Trump said. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

In the interview, Mr. Trump provided no details about how his plan would work or what it would cost. He spoke in the same generalities that he used to describe his health care goals during the campaign — that it would be “great health care” that left people “beautifully covered.”

He also offered no explanation of how he would persuade Congress to pass his plan, though he indicated that it would have the backing of the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Mr. Trump said only that “I won’t tell you how, but we will get approval.”

He seemed to refer to his recent Twitter posts that helped persuade House Republicans to back away from a proposal to gut an ethics office. “You see what’s happened in the House in recent weeks,” he said.

Top aides to Mr. Trump declined to provide more information about the president-elect’s plans. In an interview last week with The New York Times, Mr. Trump said he wanted Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it “very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.”

The president-elect told The Post that his plan would be unveiled soon after the Senate confirmed Representative Tom Price, Republican of Georgia, to be the secretary of health and human services.

Achieving the promise of “insurance for everybody” has been a goal of health care policy experts for decades, but the political and financial realities have proved problematic. Government-provided health insurance, known as a single-payer plan, has found little political support in Washington. And market-based solutions, like the Affordable Care Act, have proved difficult to carry out.

Providing health insurance to everyone in the country is likely to be very costly, a fact that could diminish support from fiscal conservatives. And liberals who support Mr. Obama’s health care plan — which provides coverage to 20 million people — may be wary of the fine print of a program that claims to cover everybody.

Mr. Trump said specifically on Saturday that “I don’t want single-payer.” He told The Post that he would force drug manufacturers to negotiate better prices with Medicaid and Medicare, the government-run health programs.

Asked how he would force the drug companies to do that, he noted the public pressure that he had exerted on other companies, mentioning his Twitter posts criticizing cost overruns for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet.

Last week, the House and the Senate began the process of repealing Mr. Obama’s health care law by approving parliamentary language that allows them to proceed without the threat of a filibuster by Democrats.

But Republicans have expressed anxiety about the demands from Mr. Trump and others for a quick replacement of the law. Many believe that will require a very complex plan that could be tricky to develop and push through Congress.