In his first-ever address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, President Donald Trump aligned himself with an Obamacare replacement platform that’s supported by mainstream GOP leaders but has faced notable opposition from Congressional conservatives in recent days.
Trump didn’t get into the nitty-gritty details of health reform policy during his milestone speech. But the measures he did endorse were remarkably in line with the Obamacare replacement plans being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and other mainstream Republican leaders. (Side note: Ryan looked especially happy during the health care portions of the speech.)
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“Action is not a choice; it is a necessity. So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster,” said Trump, adding that he wanted to see “reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better health care.”
The President went on to promote almost all of the House GOP’s most recent Obamacare replacement blueprint, including provisions to roll back the health law’s mandatory coverage mandates and to loosen federal standards (and, most likely, funding) for the Medicaid program, which covers the poorest Americans.
Trump also reemphasized his previous criticisms of high drug prices and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, which he argues keep life-saving treatments out of needy patients’ reach.
But the impact of the President’s high-profile speech on Tuesday is still murky. Congressional Republicans have publicly splintered over the proper Obamacare “repeal-and-replace” strategy in recent days, with prominent conservative members decrying that the most recent draft plans don’t go far enough to undo former President Barack Obama’s signature health law. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had reportedly urged the White House to at least officially endorse the main pillars of the early-stage legislation.