Obamacare Architect Now Advising Trump On Replacing It

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet Monday with oncologist, bioethicist and Obamacare architect Ezekiel Emanuel about how to effectively overhaul the U.S. health care system.

Emanuel’s visit to the White House marks his third face-to-face meeting with Trump since the president defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price will also attend Monday’s discussion.

Trump first sought Emanuel’s advice last December, after it became clear the president was considering keeping key provisions of Obamacare, like covering pre-existing conditions and allowing children under 26 to say on their parent’s insurance. Emanuel met with the president and senior-level health care advisers in February at the White House.

“He’s looking at all ideas, even folks like Dr. Emanuel have talked about ways in which it can be improved upon,” Sean Spicer, current White House press secretary and then a spokesmen for the Trump transition team, said last December. “He’s going to meet with all sorts of people that he agrees and disagrees with, but if they have ideas that can make the country better, and in this case our healthcare system better in terms of affordability and accessibility, he’s going to want to hear their ideas.”

Early in Trump’s campaign — which was rallying a great deal of support around its commitment to dismantle Obamacare — Emanuel expressed concern that Trump’s people seemed to be ignoring those on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. Emanuel said in February 2016 that he was “absolutely” never asked his opinion on health care reform “by Trump people,” and further he knew of “no one else who has been asked.”

The health care expert, like Democrats in Congress, opposes the Republican platform to “repeal and replace” Obamacare–the American Health Care Act. “In its present form, the bill is totally unacceptable to Democrats, myself included,” Emmanuel told The Washington Post.

It is unclear if Monday’s meeting will have any effect on the Republican plan to vote on their Obamacare repeal bill Thursday.

There are currently 22 House Republicans wavering on the AHCA. Only 430 seats in the House are currently filled, of which 237 are Republican-held. For the AHCA to pass the House, it will need to get 216 votes.

It is not entirely discernible how the 22 GOP representatives on the fence will vote. A preliminary poll by CNN reported that 19 Republican House members were leaning against the bill as it stands. Republicans can only afford to lose 21 vote for the bill to pass and get on its way to the Senate.

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