Trump speaks with­Democrats over health care

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - NATION & WORLD -

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.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sens. Chuck Schumer of NewYork and Bernie San­ders of Ver­mont onWed­nes­day urged Repub­li­cans to aban­don cuts toMedi­care and Med­i­caid.

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