President Donald Trump pauses before signing an executive order about regulatory reform in the Oval Office of the White House February 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Trump: ‘Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated’

Updated
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump seemed to think health care policy was easy. In remarks this morning at a White House event for governors, the Republican president indicated a different perspective.
“We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, and get states the flexibility that they need to make the end result really, really good for them. Very complicated issue…. I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
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Everyone knew that health care policy could be complicated. Everyone. It was complicated when Democrats spent months shaping the Affordable Care Act. It was complicated when Republicans spent seven years working behind closed doors on their alternative to the ACA. It was complicated for generations as policymakers in both parties launched various efforts to extend health security to Americans for the better part of a century.

To be surprised by its complexity is to be alarmingly ignorant of the debate that’s been ongoing for decades. It appears the only person in America who assumed health-care policy is simple is the one Americans elected president.

But that’s not all Trump said this morning. The Republican, apparently aware that polls show the ACA’s support reaching an all-time high, added, “People hate [Obamacare] but now they see that the end is coming and they say, ‘Oh maybe we love it.’ There’s nothing to love.”

I listened to this comment a few times, and I’m still not entirely sure what it means. Americans love the policy they hate? There’s nothing to love about your family having health insurance?

Trump went on to say that he intends to tackle health care before tax cuts – GOP leaders have apparently convinced the president of this, though it’s not entirely true – despite the fact that he “wishes” he could reverse the priorities.

But aside from the usual palaver – the president doesn’t care for the ACA, for reasons he generally fails to explain – perhaps the most interesting comment was Trump’s apparent boast about his own White House health care plan.

“We have come up with a solution that’s really, really, I think, very good,” he added this morning.

If Trump knows what he’s saying – an open question, to be sure – he may have made a little news with the comment.

As recently as last week, the White House told congressional Republicans that Trump wouldn’t unveil his own health care plan, and the administration would instead let Capitol Hill take the lead. This contradicted what Trump promised voters, but it hardly came as a surprise: as we discussed last week, throughout 2016, it was widely assumed that a Trump administration, if it existed, would defer to Congress on much of the legislative heavy lifting.

But this morning, after referencing his work with HHS Secretary Tom Price, and consultation with allied governors, Trump nevertheless said “we” have a health care solution.

This dovetails with a Washington Post report published yesterday.
A meeting Friday afternoon between President Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, his former rival in the GOP primaries, had no set agenda. But Kasich came armed with one anyway: his hope to blunt drastic changes to the nation’s health-care system envisioned by some conservatives in Washington.

Over the next 45 minutes, according to Kasich and others briefed on the session, the governor made his pitch while the president eagerly called in several top aides and then got Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on the phone. At one point, senior adviser Jared Kushner reminded his father-in-law that House Republicans are sketching out a different approach to providing access to coverage. “Well, I like this better,” Trump replied, according to a Kasich adviser.
The practical impact of this matters. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Republican leaders have their own plan, and they’re moving forward with their package. If the Republican White House presents a competing plan – one the president likes “better” – it will delay and complicate an already contentious fight, making the far-right effort even more likely to fail.

Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Health Care and White House

Trump: 'Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated'

Updated