Looking to break the logjam in Washington on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, President Donald Trump said Saturday evening that he was willing to pursue “a temporary deal” to get a new healthcare plan in place.
In remarks on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving for a fundraising trip to North Carolina, the president referred to a popular GOP proposal that would have the federal government turn over money for healthcare directly to states in the form of block grants.
“If we could do a one-year deal or a two-year deal as a temporary measure, you’ll have block granting ultimately to the states, which is what the Republicans want,” he said. “That really is a repeal and replace.”
Meanwhile, in an interview taped earlier this week and aired Saturday night on Trinity Broadcasting Network, the president assured host Mike Huckabee that “We’ll have health care before the election.”
Earlier Saturday, Trump said he had spoken with the Senate’s Democratic leader on Friday to gauge whether the minority party was interested in helping pass “great” health legislation.
Democrats said they willing to hear his ideas, but were not willing to scrap the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
Trump’s latest overture to Democrats followed GOP failures so far to fulfill the party’s years-long promise to repeal and replace the ACA, despite controlling the White House and Congress since January.
The president tweeted that he called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Friday to discuss the ACA, which Trump said was “badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!”
Trump said he wanted “to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill.”
Schumer said through a spokesman Saturday that Trump “wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that’s off the table.” Schumer said if Trump “wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions.”
Trump has suggested before that he would be open to negotiating with Democrats on health care, but there have been no clear signs of a compromise between the two parties.
Schumer said a starting point could be negotiations led by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., who have been discussing a limited bipartisan deal to stabilize state-level markets for individual health insurance policies. People covered under the health law represent about half of those who purchase individual policies.
Trump irritated GOP leaders in Congress when he reached a deal with Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on a spending bill and the debt ceiling. The president has referred to those two Democrats as “Chuck and Nancy.”
But the Trump administration announced Friday that it would allow more employers to opt out of no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections. The move was one more attempt to roll back Obama’s health overhaul, prompting Democrats to question whether Trump is committed to avoiding sabotaging the law.
Trump floated the potential talks as he approved an emergency declaration for a large part of Louisiana and ordered federal assistance for the state as Hurricane Nate approached the central Gulf of Mexico.
The president headlined a fundraiser on Saturday night in Greensboro, N.C., to benefit his Trump Victory joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee. The event was expected to raise $2 million, with donors paying up to $35,000 per couple to serve as co-hosts.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.