President Donald Trump told reporters in his first solo full press conference Thursday he plans on submitting reforms to the Affordable Care Act by early or mid-March.
The president told reporters his administration had begun "preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare."
"Obamacare is a disaster folks, it's a disaster," he said. "We're doing Obamacare, we're in the final stages. So we will be submitting sometime in early March, mid-March."
The timeline to repeal and replace or make changes to former President Barack Obama's signature health care law known as Obamacare has been an issue of contention among conservatives who favor outright repeal and replacement over those who would like to see a gradual step-down approach, perhaps even one that retains vestiges of the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) walked out of a meeting with Congressional Republicans convened to discuss Obamacare replacement options Tuesday. He left he said after hearing talk of retaining the Medicaid expansion program promised under Obamacare and the possible creation of new tax credits to pay for health care. Paul called the tax credit idea a "new entitlement program."
Paul has advocated having a plan in place to replace Obamacare immediately upon its repeal. His version of what a repeal-and-replace might look like was revealed in January with the release of the Obamacare Replacement Act. The Hill noted at the time that Paul’s plan offers a tax credit of up to $5,000 per person to be used for the establishment of health savings accounts and would do away with Obamacare’s mandate requiring health insurance coverage.
Trump is on record supporting expanded coverage and continuing to cover pre-existing conditions, which some conservatives think looks like the “original sin” of Obamacare, or the government interference in the health care market and the pursuit of universal coverage through regulations and subsidies at the expense of lowering costs. Republicans Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, a conservative, and Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate, have proposed the Cassidy-Collins plan, which will give states the choice of keeping Obamacare, creating their own insurance expansion or opting out of federal health care assistance.
House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that his intent is to have an Obamacare replacement plan when they return from the February recess.