White House Says Trump 'Absolutely Committed' To The American Health Care Act

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — House Republicans have rolled out a new bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, saying help is on the way for patients, doctors, and insurance companies struggling under the Affordable Care Act.

The American Health Care Act comes with some big changes, but also keeps some portions of the old law, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.

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President Donald Trump placed his support behind the new health care bill, promising Americans they can choose their doctor and choose their plan.

“Obamacare is collapsing and it’s in bad shape, and we’re going to take action. There’s going to be no slowing down,” he said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the new House Republican health care legislation is a “work in progress” that represents a step in the “right direction.”

At the daily White House briefing Tuesday, Price said that the administration’s goal is to improve health care and coverage while reducing costs and making plans more affordable. He says the administration is also planning a regulatory overhaul and additional legislation to accomplish things that can’t be done through the reconciliation process.

“The goal of all this is patient-centered health care, where patients and families and doctors are making medical decisions and not the federal government,” Price said.


The new bill eliminates many of the main parts of Obamacare including the individual mandate, employer mandate, and most taxes. In their place, a dramatic expansion of health savings accounts, plus refundable tax credits for low and middle income Americans who don’t get insurance through their work, Grymes reported.

Republicans say the tax credits would range from $2,000 to $14,000 a year, depending on age and family size.

“We provide the American people with what we’ve asked for and what they asked for: greater choice, lower cost, and flexibility to choose the plan that best suits their family’s needs,” Walden said.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says the president is “absolutely committed” to the new House Republican health care legislation.

“Our goal is to actually add more choice and more competition,” Spicer said.

Earlier, Trump tweeted, “Our wonderful new healthcare bill is now out for review and negotiation. Obamacare is a complete and total disaster – is imploding fast!”

Republicans did not throw out all Obamacare provisions. The new bill continues to protect people with pre-existing conditions, it also allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, and it would wait until 2020 to scale back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

That expansion is just one of several concerns many Republicans have with the legislation, Grymes reported.

“This is a step in the wrong direction, and as much as anything it’s a missed opportunity,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he wants low-income Americans to have greater coverage access, but he suggested they may have to make some sacrifices.

“Americans have choices and they’ve got to make a choice. So maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves,” he said.

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Chaffetz later clarified that he didn’t make the point as clearly as he could have, but said people do need to make a conscious choice.

Meantime, Democrats, like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, called the bill “breathtakingly irresponsible.”

“It seems designed to cover fewer Americans and make that coverage less affordable and less generous,” he said. “It seems designed to Make America Sick Again.”

On “CBS This Morning,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out against the new bill despite the portions saved from Obamacare.

“You have to have a pool of people to be insured,” Pelosi said. “They don’t talk about how much it’s going to cost. pre-existing conditions coverage is very very expensive.”

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady dismissed conservative criticism of the House GOP’s new plan to replace President Barack Obama’s health law.

One of those conservative critics, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, called the plan “Obamacare Lite.”

“This is Obamacare gone,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Way & Means Committee Chairman, said at a news conference Tuesday. “This is the first and most important step to giving relief to Americans from this terrible law.”

Brady’s committee will start considering the bill Wednesday, as will the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“We’ve arrived at the scene of a pretty big wreck and we’re trying to clean it up and if we don’t intercede now, fewer people will have access to coverage, period,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman.

Conservative groups also came out against the plan Tuesday.

Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, said in a statement that the proposal “not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them.”

Club for Growth president David McIntosh put out a statement saying: “The problems with this bill are not just what’s in it, but also what’s missing: namely, the critical free-market solution of selling health insurance across state lines.”

In response to the early wave of opposition from conservative groups, Price said “this is the beginning of the process'” and that the administration looks forward to working with the groups through this process.

The cost is an unanswered question.

There is no word yet when the Congressional budget office will have an estimate.

Trump also tweeted that getting rid of state lines to promote competition among health insurers will be in Phase 2 and 3 of the rollout.

Meanwhile Tuesday, the White House resumed group tours for the first time since the inauguration. In a light-hearted moment, the president surprised a tour group of children, even calling one little boy up for a hug.

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)