President Trump this week defended his recent actions on Obamacare, saying that the problems the law was facing were the result of his predecessor, former President Obama.
“Well, we’re actually, what we’re doing is trying to keep it afloat, because it’s failing,” Trump said in wide-ranging Forbes interview published online Tuesday. “I mean the insurance companies are fleeing and have fled. They fled before I got here. But with that being said, no, Obamacare is Obama’s fault. It’s nobody else’s fault.”
Trump was responding to a question from Forbes about whether it was his duty to make sure Obamacare runs smoothly. The Trump administration has been accused by Obamacare’s supporters of trying to “sabotage” the law because it cut the open enrollment period in half, reduced budgets for advertising and for navigators and scheduled website outages for maintenance.
In the interview, Trump said that the problems faced by the exchanges, including rising costs of gross premiums, predated his term.
“It’s a failed concept,” he said. “It’s thousands and thousands of pages. It’s been amended by additional thousands of pages. It’s a total mess. The premiums are going up, you know.”
Insurers have said this year’s premium increases are the result of uncertainty over what the Trump administration would do about the law, though they also acknowledge that the exchanges continue to cost them financially.
Republicans worked all year to reach agreement on healthcare, but were not able to in time for the Sept. 30 deadline that ended the fiscal year. In the Forbes interview, Trump reiterated his support for Graham-Cassidy, the final healthcare bill Republicans abandoned this year after failing to get enough support from members of their own party. The president said he still believed enough support could be reached for passage, ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
“It’ll be far better than it is,” he said. “Because Obamacare has failed, badly. So I’m working on that now. But we actually, I would say, I either have the votes or I’m one vote short. And I believe we’ll get healthcare done sometime prior to the election.”
He hinted that he was leaving open the option of making a deal with Democrats on healthcare as well.
“As you have noticed, I’m very able to make deals with Democrats if I have to,” he said, referring to a spending deal he recently reached with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Trump and Schumer spoke about healthcare over the phone this weekend, but Schumer warned any deal that included repealing the law would not receive Democratic support.