Trump Says Health Law Replacement May Not Be Ready Until Next Year

FEB. 5, 2017

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump said in an interview that aired on Sunday that a replacement health care law was not likely to be ready until either the end of this year or in 2018, a major shift from promises by both him and Republican leaders to repeal and replace the law as soon as possible.

“Maybe it’ll take till sometime into next year, but we’re certainly going to be in the process,” Mr. Trump said during an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, after Mr. O’Reilly asked the president whether Americans could “expect a new health care plan rolled out by the Trump administration this year.”

“It statutorily takes awhile to get,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re going to be putting it in fairly soon, 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.”

Mr. Trump acknowledged that replacing former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is complicated, though he reiterated his confidence that his administration could devise a plan that would work better than the law — despite having provided few details of how such a plan would work.

“You have to remember Obamacare doesn’t work, so we are putting in a wonderful plan,” Mr. Trump said.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has vowed to move legislation for a replacement for the Affordable Care Act by the end of March. But some Republicans are worried about a political backlash if they repeal the law without an adequate replacement — potentially throwing millions of people off their insurance — and have urged a more methodical approach.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a Republican who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, recently proposed repairing parts of the health care law ahead of scrapping the whole package.

Mr. Trump said last month that he wanted to present a replacement soon after the Senate confirmed his nominee for secretary of health and human services, Representative Tom Price, Republican of Georgia. The Senate is scheduled to vote on Mr. Price’s confirmation this week.

“We’re going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary is approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan,” Mr. Trump said in January.

Last month, the president signed an executive order to begin unwinding the Affordable Care Act. It gave the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to ease what it called “unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens” from the existing law.