Trump speaks withDemocrats over health care
WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump said Saturday that he had spoken to the Senate’s Democratic leader to gauge whether the minority party was interested in helping pass “great” health legislation.
The answer back: Democrats are willing to hear his ideas, but scrapping the Affordable Care Act is a nonstarter.
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. In spite of controlling the White House and Congress since January, Republicans have not passed the legislation.
The president tweeted that he called New York Sen. Chuck Schumer on Friday to discuss the 2010 law known as “Obamacare,” which Trump said “is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!” Trump said he wanted “to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill.”
In remarks Saturday evening before a trip to North Carolina, Trump said he was willing to consider “a temporary deal.” What that might involve was not clear, but Trump referred to a popular GOP proposal that would have the federal government turn over money for health care directly to states in the form of block grants.
“If we could do a oneyear 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. That really is a repeal and replace,” he said.
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 Republicans and Democrats.
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.
The Trump administration announced Friday that it would allow more employers to opt out of no- cost birth control to women by claiming re- ligious or moral objections. The move was one more attempt to roll back President Barack Obama’s health overhaul, prompting Democrats to question whether Trump is committed to avoiding sabotaging the law.
Before leaving for North Carolina, Trump repeated his assertion that trying to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs is a waste of time.
In a two- part tweet, he said: “Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid
... hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U. S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”
Trump’s tweets Saturday and earlier in the week were seen as directed either at undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to maintain channels of communication or at somehow bolstering the diplomat’s hand in future talks.
Sens. Chuck Schumer of NewYork and Bernie Sanders of Vermont onWednesday urged Republicans to abandon cuts toMedicare and Medicaid.