President Donald Trump will wait until after the 2020 elections to push lawmakers to move forward with an overhaul of the U.S. health care system, solidifying the issue’s place at the forefront of what is expected to be a bitter race for Congress and the White House.
The GOP plan "will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare. Vote will be taken right after the Election," Trump tweeted.
With both Republicans and Democrats in disarray on health care, it remains to be seen which tentative plan voters will embrace or how candidates will navigate a complex issue on which the public is divided.
“Health care has long been the space where people think about what’s the right role for government and what is a country’s obligation and responsibility to meet basic needs of the population,” said Allison Hoffman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “It’s become the place where people are expressing and fighting out different views about what the world should look like.”
GOP lawmakers appear to be taking a renewed interest in a failed proposal to transfer federal subsidies offered under ObamaCare to a large block grant to states to allow local officials to craft their own insurance systems – one that earned widespread opposition from the health care industry and some Republican governors when it was first introduced last year.
And while Democrats routinely bash the GOP for lacking a clear alternative to ObamaCare despite repeated attempts to repeal the law, the party is also struggling to coalesce around whether to improve the existing system or embrace a move to so-called “Medicare for All” – a catch-all term for several proposals, including one backed by 2020 candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and others to end all private insurance.
“In politics, the safest bet is always the status quo -- that not much is going to change. For the next year, that seems like the safest bet. Although the courts are the wildcard here,” Richard Kronick, a professor at the University of California, told FOX Business.
Amplifying the attention on the issue is the White House’s recent decision to agree with a federal judge in Texas that former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is unconstitutional.
Overturning the law would not only create chaos in the U.S. health care system and force millions of American off of their insurance plans, it would also invalidate a number of other government programs -- including a new pathway at the Food and Drug Administration to approve copycat versions of advanced biologic drugs.
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For Trump, the delay until after the elections comes as the courts continue to block his administration’s attempts to implement more conservative health care policies without the backing of Congress.
Last week, a federal judge rejected a Kentucky program that would require lower income individuals enrolled in Medicaid to work to receive the benefits of the entitlement program – the second time the courts have blocked the proposal advocated by the White House. The judge also nullified Arkansas’ own work requirement system.
After the decision, top Trump health official Seema Verma said the administration “will continue to defend our efforts to give states greater flexibility to help low-income Americans rise out of poverty.”
“States are the laboratories of democracy and we will vigorously support their innovative, state-driven efforts to develop and test reforms that will advance the objectives of the Medicaid program,” the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a district court on Thursday blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to allow small businesses to group together to buy insurance in so-called association health plans -- which don’t adhere to regulations set by the federal health law.
While the White House argues such a system can lead to lower costs for Main Street companies, critics say it is a direct move to undermine ObamaCare because it could dissuade those firms from participating in the law’s insurance exchanges.
And despite the administration’s new stance that ObamaCare should be removed in its entirety, the recent court rulings could end up being more significant because they address core conservative beliefs, experts say.
“There’s a certain amount of what you see going on that is grandstanding, and there is a certain amount that is true substantive disagreement on what the role of government should be,” Hoffman said.