After President Donald Trump and Republicans failed to fulfill their pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, Democrats warned them against keeping a new promise: Allowing the 2010 health law to collapse.
After being unable to pass a Republican repeal bill in a Republican-controlled House last week, Trump sought to pin fallout from Obamacare’s shortcomings on Democrats. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) countered that it’s the president’s job to enforce the law.
“Now it’s about time for the president to lead, not to name-call, not to blame, but to lead,” Schumer said on CNN late Friday. “To simply say people are going to suffer, and someone is to blame, that makes no sense at all.”
On Saturday, Trump fanned Democrats’ concerns with a tweet: “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”
That followed Trump’s description to The Washington Post of what comes next.
“As you know, I have been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode, and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us. We won’t have to come to them after Obamacare explodes,” Trump said.
Schumer said Democrats would be glad to work with Trump and Republicans to fix the flaws in the current law’s individual insurance market and other areas — if they take repeal of Obamacare off the table.
“But, in the meantime, for the president to do things to make Obamacare worse and have millions of people suffer, to make sure it doesn’t work, when [the Congressional Budget Office] says it is working — he’s wrong about that — that’s not being a president,” Schumer said.
But Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at an event in West Virginia, showed no softening of his view of Obamacare Saturday despite the House inaction on its repeal.
“It was a victory for the status quo in Washington, D.C., and it was a victory for the disaster of Obamacare,” Pence added. “I promise you, that victory won’t last long.”
Trump has already taken steps to weaken the 2010 health care law.
He signed an executive order to undermine the individual mandate to buy health insurance, pulled ads meant to encourage people to sign up during the enrollment period, and repeatedly calls the health act a “disaster,” driving away potential enrollees and insurers.
But those actions were taken with the belief that Republicans would repeal Obamacare, rather than remain the law of the land, as House Speaker Paul Ryan put it Friday, “for the foreseeable future.”
Now Republicans must determine what they will do with a law they have campaigned and voted repeatedly to eradicate for seven years as their legislative agenda moves to tax cuts and other measures.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who supported the Ryan bill, said after it was pulled that “the consequences will only worsen” under the flawed law.
“I believe strongly that we need a stable transition to a new reality that will work better and make health care costs affordable, relieving taxpayers of the financial burdens under this failed policy, and give patients more choices,” Zeldin said.
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said he wanted to remind Trump and Ryan that the current health law “needs nurturing, not neglect.”
While Ryan predicted Obamacare may fall under its own weight, Crowley said, “We can’t let that happen. We all have responsibility to keep this law and nurture it, keep it moving.”