Trump Extends Timetable to Replace Obamacare

Politics Dow Jones Newswires

President Donald Trump downgraded expectations for his party's swift repeal and replacement of the 2010 health law in a Sunday interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, saying "maybe it'll take til some time into next year" 

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"Obamacare doesn't work. So we are putting in a wonderful plan. It's statutorily...takes a while to get. We're going to be putting it in fairly soon," Mr. Trump said. 

"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." 

He was responding to a question from Mr. O'Reilly over whether Americans could expect to see the Trump administration roll out a plan by the end of the year to overturn the 2010 health law and enact new policy in its place. 

Mr. Trump's remarks appeared to acknowledge Republicans' current logjam in fulfilling a long-stated ambition of striking down President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act. The party's majorities in the House and Senate cannot sustain significant defections by either moderate or conservative GOP lawmakers and those two sides are currently seeking irreconcilable approaches. 

The answer came after a week in which conservative lawmakers said they were frustrated at the slow pace of movement to repeal the health law. These lawmakers and their allies outside the administration have said time is running out, and that if Congress doesn't act within the next few weeks, it could become impossible. 

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But moderate lawmakers--including at least three GOP senators who could undo the party's 52-vote margin there--have been equally resolute in their statements that they are unwilling to vote to take apart the law without an agreed-upon alternative. 

An unknown factor has been how much influence Mr. Trump will aim to exert on the process. On Friday, at a gathering of CEOs in the White House, he said: "We're coming up with a tax bill soon, a health-care bill even sooner." 

An executive order he signed the same day as his inauguration raised the possibility that his secretary of Health and Human Services could take broad action to unwind parts of the health law and force Congress to act, though that move would come with political risks of its own.