WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is rejecting responsibility for the current US health insurance system enacted by his predecessor, as Congress remains unable to pass legislation to repeal or replace the so-called Obamacare law.
Trump told reporters Tuesday at the White House that his conservative Republicans in Congress, who hold majorities in both chambers, should “just let Obamacare fail,” suggesting they would not bear the political blame.
“I’m not going to own it, I can tell you. The Republicans are not going to own it,” he said.
Republicans have cited rising costs and fewer insurance providers participating in the programme in many parts of the country.
Democrats argue that the Affordable Care Act, the official name of the 2010 legislation signed into law by Democratic president Barack Obama, has brought coverage to millions of uninsured US residents, and warn that tens of millions of people could lose coverage if Republican proposals are enacted.
Trump, who promised during his presidential campaign to repeal and replace the health insurance reforms enacted under president Barack Obama, said he was “disappointed” by the Senate’s inability to produce a health care measure similar to legislation passed in May by the lower House of Representatives.
When Obamacare collapses, “everybody’s going to have to come together and fix it and come up with a new plan … that’s really good for the people, with much lower premiums, much lower costs, and much better protection,” Trump said.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell conceded late Monday that there was not enough support among his 52 Republicans to push a measure through the 100-seat upper chamber to repeal and replace Obamacare.
None of the 46 left-leaning Democrats and two left-wing independents supported the Senate measure.
McConnell said Tuesday that “sometime in the near future” he hoped to pass repeal legislation with a two-year delay to provide “the opportunity to work out a complete replacement with our Democratic friends.”
Multiple Republican senators had already voiced opposition to Obamacare repeal measures without replacement.
Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, accused Trump of choosing “to throw up his hands, rather than rolling up his sleeves and working with us.”
He said Trump was “actively trying to undermine” the current health insurance system through repeal proposals that create uncertainties for insurance companies currently selling coverage through Obamacare.
“Passing repeal without a replacement would be a disaster,” Schumer said earlier on the Senate floor. “Our health care system would implode. Millions would lose coverage. Coverage for millions more would be diminished.”
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was “worried that Obamacare will stand and the law will continue to collapse and people will get hurt in the process.”
He said the measure passed in the House met the “promise” to repeal Obamacare – a Republican tenet since 2010 – but that legislating is a “hard process” particularly with the “razor-thin majority” held by Senate Republicans.
“We passed our simultaneous repeal and replace bill,” Ryan said. “We think that’s the solution. We think that’s the best way to go. And so we’re just going to have to wait and hope that our friends in the Senate can figure out how they can get a bill passed.”