- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2019

President Trump thinks Obamacare will be scrapped through the courts and that he can strike a deal to deliver “good health care in this country” despite a divided Congress, according to an interview published Friday.

Mr. Trump told the New York Times he hasn’t received enough credit for offering cheaper alternatives to coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, though he views the repeal-and-replace effort as unfinished business after the late Sen. John McCain gave GOP plans a thumbs-down in 2017.

Looking at his agenda, he said the 2010 health law is vulnerable, citing a federal ruling in Texas that said Congress’ decision to gut the “individual mandate” to have insurance makes Obamacare’s benefits invalid, too.

“You know, the various elements of that case, you would think it would have to be terminated,” he told the newspaper. “But a deal will be made for good health care in this country. That’s one of the things I’ll be doing.”

Democrats retook the House majority this year after campaigning to protect Obamacare and its protections for people with preexisting conditions. The takeover effectively shelved the GOP’s repeal-and-replace bid for another two years.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, an appointee of President George W. Bush, breathed new life into the issue with a mid-December ruling that says Obamacare is no longer constitutional. Blue states are appealing the decision before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the ruling is upheld by the circuit and then possibly the Supreme Court, it would force Congress to revisit the issue.

Many legal experts think that’s unlikely, however.

They say Congress specifically left the rest of Obamacare alone when it decided to gut the mandate penalty in the GOP’s tax overhaul, so the courts should view the mandate as severable from the rest of the program.

Last year, the Trump administration took the unusual step of refusing to defend the federal health law against the lawsuit, which was filed by more than a dozen GOP-led states.

Justice Department lawyers agreed that if the mandate is invalid, then so are parts of the law requiring insurers to accept sicker Americans with pre-existing conditions and charge them the same price as healthy people.

Democrats say that position undercuts the GOP’s vow to protect people who suffer from pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and struggled to find affordable coverage before Obamacare.

The House and Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on the potential fallout from the Obamacare lawsuit.

“In an interview with @nytimes, Trump openly admits Republicans’ ongoing intent to repeal the ACA through the Texas v. U.S. court case,” committee Democrats tweeted. “THIS is why Congressional hearings on its impacts are important.”

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