Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to immediately repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care law if he’s elected president next week.
“When we win on Nov. 8 and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. We have to do it,” Trump said Tuesday afternoon in an address on the Affordable Care Act in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
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“I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace,” he continued. “And it will be such an honor for me, for you and for everybody in this country because Obamacare has to be replaced. And we will do it, and we will do it very, very quickly. It is a catastrophe.”
But Congress won’t be able to repeal and replace the health law quickly or easily. Even if Republicans keep control of the Senate, Democrats will likely have enough votes to filibuster a quick repeal bill.
While Republicans are working on a repeal using a complicated budget procedure that doesn’t allow a filibuster, it would likely take months to enact. And a replacement bill may be even harder.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has released a blueprint of a replacement plan, but Republicans are divided on the details of how to reform the massive health care system.
The health law had not played prominently in the campaign this year — a marked contrast to each election since its passage in 2010. But with premiums rising for the enrollment season, which began Tuesday, Trump has pounced on the law’s flaws and renewed his promise to tear it up.
The GOP nominee characterized the law as a massive, nearly 3,000-page bill that to this day “nobody understands.” He also seized on the administration’s announcement of premium hikes.
“Here in Pennsylvania, premiums are going to increase more than 60 percent,” he said. “And that’s nothing compared [to] what will happen in the future. Of course, in the future, if I’m president, there won’t be Obamacare so you won’t have to worry about that.”
He attacked Obamacare for stalling the economy and killing jobs, noting that there are fewer insurers and doctors now but higher premiums and deductibles as he cast a Hillary Clinton election as a detrimental expansion that Americans can’t afford.
“Obamacare means higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality, yet Hillary Clinton wants to expand Obamacare and make it even more expensive,” he added. “She wants to put the government totally in charge of health care in America. If we don’t repeal and replace Obamacare, we will destroy American healthcare forever. It’s one of the single most important reasons why we must win on Nov. 8. We must win.”
For her part, Clinton has pledged to build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act, which she often touted on the trail as “Hillarycare” before it was Obamacare.
Trump called for replacing Obamacare with health savings accounts that would allow Americans to purchase insurance across state lines and empowering states to manage Medicaid funding.
“We will create quality, reliable, affordable health care in a free market where parents can make the health care decisions that they really wanna make for their families,” Trump said. “It will be a much better health care at a much less expensive cost.”
Despite billing his address as a joint speech with his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, on Obamacare — which included some members of Congress in attendance — Trump veered into his stump speech, speaking on issues like restoring manufacturing jobs, repealing Common Core, lowering taxes and rebuilding the nation’s military.
“We’ve also outlined detailed solutions on so many other issues to make life better for every American family. While this is really a meeting — and that’s what it is, it’s a meeting of very, very special people, and I appreciate you all being here — but it’s a meeting talking about health care and Obamacare. Our plan for other things also include the bringing back of manufacturing jobs,” he said, seguing into his stump speech. “We have to do it.”
Pence, who introduced Trump, boasted about Republicans’ opposition to Obama’s health care legislation, which he was part of as chair of the House GOP conference.
“I stand before you today because today, open enrollment begins on the Obamacare exchanges. And once again, millions of Americans are gonna be disappointed by their lack of options, and, frankly, they’re gonna be shocked by the high premiums and the cost of health insurance,” Pence said. “This government takeover of health care that we call Obamacare is failing in states across Obamacare as it is here in Pennsylvania, and the case has never been stronger for repeal.”
Like Trump, Pence tied the Democratic nominee to the president as a proponent of the health care law that even her husband criticized. And he also took a shot at the former secretary of state as she’s embroiled in yet another email controversy, this time stemming from the FBI’s announcement Friday that it is reviewing additional emails related to its investigation of her use of a private email server while she headed the State Department.
“The choice in this election couldn’t be more clear. With Hillary Clinton we’ll get more of the same from the last seven-and-a-half years,” he said. “More taxes, more spending, more regulation and more Obamacare. I mean, we can’t trust Hillary Clinton with our health care any more than we can trust her with classified information.”
Jennifer Haberkorn and Joanne Kenen contributed to this report.