WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is “proud” to endorse the House Republicans’ blueprint for supplanting Obamacare, although his aides more cautiously described it as a work in progress.
Trump urged quick passage of the bill that was introduced Monday night and met with resistance from conservative members of his party for its similarities to Obamacare.
“I’m proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives,” he said at a White House meeting with the whip team charged with gathering votes. “ . . . It’s a complicated process, but actually it’s very simple. It’s called good health care.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price hedged when asked earlier whether he supports everything in the bill.
“This is a work in progress, and we will work with the House and the Senate in this process,” he said at a news conference.
The immediate repeal and replacement of Obamacare — former President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act to expand access to health insurance — was a top campaign pledge by Trump but delivering on the promise has proven a slower process.
The long-anticipated replacement would swap the penalty now imposed on those refusing to buy coverage with tax credits to incentivize the purchase of private insurance.
Democrats and some moderate GOP senators feared it would cover millions fewer Americans than Obamacare, and conservatives said it wouldn’t go far enough in removing mandates and reducing government intrusion in the free market.
Trump tweeted enthusiastic ownership of the bill.
“Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster — is imploding fast!” he wrote, saying the ability to buy insurance across state lines will be addressed in later phases.
“I am working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!” he posted without details.
Spicer repeatedly called the bill “our plan” at a news conference featuring the House GOP bill as a shorter stack of paper next to the Obamacare legislation — a demonstration that the replacement is less convoluted.
But, like Price, Spicer stressed there is room for revision.
GOP support in the Senate will be won over “as we go through that process,” he said.
“We’re at Day One. We’re going to go through the House first, so we got a little bit of time,” he said.
Also Tuesday, the president criticized his predecessor over what Trump erroneously tweeted was Obama’s handling of releases from Guantánamo Bay detention camp.
“122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” Trump wrote in a post that appeared after a related segment aired on “Fox & Friends.”
Statistics from Director of National Intelligence show 122 out of 693 transferred detainees are confirmed of re-engaging as of July 2016, but 113 among that group of apparent recidivists had been released under former President George W. Bush.
Spicer clarified, “Obviously, the president meant in totality the number that had been released on the battlefield.”
Asked separately if the president regrets alleging — without evidence — that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower, Spicer said, “Absolutely not.”
Trump will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House next week and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi the following week.