Feb 28, 2017

Trump lays out his guide to Obamacare replacement

Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump laid out his ideas for replacing Obamacare in his speech to Congress Tuesday night — and while most of it tracked with congressional Republicans' plans, he threw in a few twists of his own.

It wasn't detailed enough to be called a proposal, but Trump outlined enough principles to give a general idea of what he wants. He got more specific on some issues than he has in the past, like calling for tax credits — a nudge to conservative Republicans who don't like the idea. Another big change: he called for reducing drug costs, but didn't say how — glossing over the differences he has had with his Republican colleagues in the past.

He also signaled that he wants Congress to include tort reform — an issue he hasn't talked about much before, and a longtime Republican idea that has been sidelined in its latest health care proposals. Read on for the health care highlights of his speech.

Here's what Trump asked for:

  • Give people with pre-existing conditions "access to coverage." (He didn't say how.)
  • A "stable transition" for all current Obamacare customers.
  • Let Americans buy their own health coverage with tax credits and health savings accounts. (The "tax credits" line was aimed at the conservative hardliners who don't like the refundable tax credits in the draft GOP plan.)
  • Flexibility in benefits: "It must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the government."
  • More state flexibility in Medicaid, "to make sure no one is left out." (That's a nod to the governors who told him they want to make sure no one loses coverage.)
  • A hint that he wants tort reform: "legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance."
  • "Work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately." (But in a departure from his past comments, he said nothing about the government negotiating drug prices.)
  • Letting health insurers sell plans across state lines.

Hurry, up, FDA: Trump also suggested he wants to overhaul the approval process for new drugs. "Our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances ... from reaching those in need."

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