President Donald Trump said in a wide-ranging pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly Sunday that repealing and replacing Obamacare is a "complicated" process that might not happen until 2018.
The admission is a major shift from earlier promises that he and top congressional Republicans made last month, when it appeared the Republican-controlled Congress and White House were determined to make replacing Obamacare the top priority of Trump's first 100 days.
"Maybe it’ll take till sometime into next year, but we’re certainly going to be in the process," Trump told O'Reilly when asked if Americans can expect the law to be repealed this year.
"It statutorily takes awhile to get," the president added. "We’re going to be putting it in fairly soon, 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."
During the interview, Trump reiterated the necessity of replacing former President Barack Obama's ailing health care law by vowing to put forward a successful alternative.
"You have to remember Obamacare doesn’t work so we are putting in a wonderful plan," he said.
Trump, however, did not provide any details about a Republican replacement plan.
On Jan. 11, just days before being inaugurated, Trump vowed that his administration would offer a health care replacement plan as soon as his nominee for health and human services secretary, Rep. Tom Price (Ga.), was confirmed by the Senate. At the time, Trump promised Obamacare would be simultaneously repealed and replaced.
"We're going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary is approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan," he said during a press conference last month.
The move to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time was spearheaded by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul last month, who warned about the consequences that repealing the law — and not immediately replacing it — would have on Americans, insurance companies, in addition to the political ramifications it could have on Republicans.
Since then, talk of repealing and replacing Obamacare has become almost nonexistent, pushed aside by Trump's many executive orders.
So far, only one of Trump's executive orders has targeted Obamacare. His first executive order, signed on Inauguration Day, sought to begin unraveling the complicated regulations of Obamacare, which many saw as the first step of uprooting the law.
Still, according to Bloomberg, the House Energy and Commerce Committee examined four draft bills last week "that could serve as a basis for some of the earliest moves by Republicans to replace pieces of the law."
Listen to Trump's comment below. The relevant portion begins at 7:15: