Trump backtracks on his timeline for repealing the Affordable Care Act

The repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was one of the pillars of Donald Trump’s campaign. A week before the election, during a campaign speech delivered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Trump said:

When we win on November 8th, and elect a Republican congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. Have to do it… Because Obamacare has to be replaced, and we will do it, and we will do it very, very quickly. It is a catastrophe.

Again, during a January 11th news conference, in response to a question on the Affordable Care Act, Trump responded:

So the easiest thing would be to let it implode in ’17 and believe me, we’d get pretty much whatever we wanted, but it would take a long time. We’re going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary’s approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan.

It’ll be repeal and replace. It will be essentially, simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably, the same day, could be the same hour.

So as soon as our secretary is approved and gets into the office, we’ll be filing a plan. And it was actually pretty accurately reported today, The New York Times. And the plan will be repeal and replace Obamacare.

And just hours after being sworn in as president of the United States, Trump signed an executive order aimed at weakening the law.

However, last night, during an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, Trump explained that a new plan wouldn’t be ready until late 2017 or early 2018.

In the process, and maybe it’ll take until sometime into next year, but we are certainly gonna be in the process. Very complicated.

Additionally, Trump continued to withhold details of the new plan, referring to it simply as “a wonderful plan.”

Obamacare is a disaster. You have to remember, Obamacare doesn’t work. So we are putting in a wonderful plan. It statutorily takes a while to get. We’re gonna be putting it in fairly soon. I think that, yes, I would like to say, by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year.

After 6.4 million enrollments at the end of 2016, The Affordable Care Act now insures roughly 20 million Americans, or about 6.25% of the entire U.S. population. Although historically unpopular, recent polls by NBC/WSJ and Fox News show that the prospect of repeal has actually increased the law’s popularity.

Graphic from The New York Times.

In fact, January of this year marked the first time that the majority of Americans thought the Affordable Care Act was a good idea.

Graphic from The New York Times.

Perhaps the late Mario Cuomo characterized the nature of campaign promises best when he said:

You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.

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