Trump makes no calls for ObamaCare repeal in State of the Union

Trump makes no calls for ObamaCare repeal in State of the Union
© Toya Sarno Jordan

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE made no mention of repealing or replacing ObamaCare during his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, cementing how far the issue has fallen off of the GOP’s agenda.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have largely moved away from gutting former President Obama’s signature health-care law, and Trump wasn’t expected to speak about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in his speech Tuesday.

Trump touted the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate in the GOP tax bill, saying “we repealed the core of disastrous ObamaCare.”

However, the bill only gutted the fee for going uninsured, leaving other parts of the law in place, including the Medicaid expansion, insurance exchanges and consumer protections.

ADVERTISEMENT

But ObamaCare received a prominent role last year during the president’s first address to a joint session of Congress.

“Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace ObamaCare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and, at the same time, provide better health care,” Trump said on Feb. 28.

“Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country,” he continued. “The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we are going do.”

Trump laid out guiding principles for a GOP health bill, such as ensuring those with pre-existing conditions have access to health coverage, helping people buy health care through tax credits and expanding health savings accounts and granting states the flexibility to tailor their Medicaid programs.

But Senate Republicans failed to agree on a health-care bill that could pass the chamber with their slim majority last year, and the window to use a budget maneuver allowing a health bill to pass without Democratic votes closed Sept. 30. The task would be even more difficult this year, which Republicans have acknowledged, as the GOP has just a one-seat majority with the election of Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in December.

Instead, the Trump administration has looked to alter the health law administratively. Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, knows the regulatory process well, according to Azar’s former colleagues.

During Azar’s swearing-in ceremony at the White House Monday, Trump noted, “As our new secretary, Alex will continue to implement the administrative and regulatory changes needed to ensure that our citizens get the affordable high quality care that they deserve.”