The White House is quietly working on a healthcare policy proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter.

While it is not clear how far along the process is, work on a proposal has been going on for months. The effort appears to belie criticism that Trump’s decision to restart the debate on healthcare, an issue Democrats used to their advantage in the 2018 midterms, was an error committed without forethought.

“The White House, mainly through the National Economic Council, has been engaged on thinking about health care reform for a while now, and they have been engaged with a group of center-right health policy groups to talk about various proposals and ideas,” a conservative health policy analyst told the Washington Examiner.

The analyst said the administration has been “having conversations” on healthcare policy and has reached out to numerous think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation, the Mercatus Center, and the Hoover Institute.

“They’ve had conversations for the last several months and as recently as a few weeks ago,” the analyst said. “Before the president said what he said, they’d been consistently focused on working on a healthcare plan.”

Trump said Tuesday that Republicans would soon become the “party of healthcare.” The remark was surprising to many, in light of Republicans’ failure to repeal Obamacare the drubbing the GOP took in the midterms. Many Republican lawmakers insist that they won’t act on legislation until Trump comes up with a plan.

Then on Thursday, while speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump said his administration was “working on a plan now” — though he said there was “no great rush” to roll out a proposal and added that he was waiting for the courts to repeal the ACA.

The president brought up healthcare again on Friday, claiming he would have a “much better” plan than Obamacare. “The health care’s going very well,” he told reporters in Florida.

The White House did not provide a comment, pointing instead to Trump’s statements on Thursday.

Policy leaders at several conservative think tanks confirmed to the Examiner that a healthcare plan is indeed the works. They said a proposal would take concepts from the Graham-Cassidy bill, by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and the Health Care Choices proposal, which was signed by many conservative policy leaders, including the Heritage Foundation and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn. One analyst said a White House proposal would most likely be brought up in the Senate first.

Heritage Foundation Director of Domestic Policy Studies Marie Fishpaw noted that the president has already included concepts from the Health Care Choices proposal in his 2020 budget.

The proposal, according to Fishpaw, “would lower premiums by up to a third, lowering costs while also protecting people with pre-existing conditions.” It would replace federal payments to insurance companies with grants for each state, giving individual states more leeway to determine how to use the money.

One conservative policy analyst said that although the White House is definitely “exploring” the healthcare issue, it does not seem ready to unveil a proposal.

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s fully formed,” the analyst said. “I think a lot of the devil’s in the details.”

A spokeswoman for Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman, Ark., who has announced his own wide-ranging health reform plan, confirmed that the White House is “serious” about working on health care, but she said she thought lawmakers would take the initiative on the issue.

“Most likely, the effort will be from Congress,” she said.

Trump has already asked a group of Senate Republicans, including John Barrasso of Wyoming, Rick Scott of Florida and Cassidy to come up with a replacement for Obamacare. But other Senate Republicans, including Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have indicated an unwillingness to get moving on the issue until Trump puts forth his own proposal.

“I’m anxious to see what the White House is going to recommend in terms of a healthcare delivery system that looks like somebody designed the damn thing on purpose,” Kennedy said.

Author: Emily Ward

Source: Washingtonexaminer: White House working on secret healthcare plan with three conservative think tanks

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