WASHINGTON (CNN) — Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Wednesday, Jan. 18, that Republicans do not yet have a bill to replace Obamacare, but that he has “seen a lot of great ideas” and that transition officials and GOP leaders are “getting very close” to having a replacement.
“It’s being crafted right now,” Pence said Wednesday in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, when asked about a replacement to the President’s signature health care law. “We’re getting very close. We expect to have that plan come forward in the early days of the administration.”
Pence’s comments came after Trump said in an interview Saturday with The Washington Post that his health care replacement plan “is very much formulated down to the final strokes” — comments that have worried Republicans on Capitol Hill who believe it will take Congress weeks at least to replace the law, also known as the Affordable Care Act.
The incoming vice president also sought to clarify Trump’s promise of “insurance for everybody,” which also has worried Republicans on Capitol Hill who fear that Trump is overpromising on health care. Pence said he believed Trump’s promise of “insurance for everybody” is really about “making insurance affordable for everyone.”
Pence’s comments came in an interview Wednesday in which he reiterated Trump’s pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously and made clear that Trump transition officials are still working with Republican leaders to cobble together a replacement bill that will ensure Americans don’t see a lapse in health care coverage.
“What the President-elect has made clear is that he also wants Congress at the same time to pass a replacement bill that will lower the cost of health insurance and literally make health insurance affordable for every American,” Pence said.
The incoming vice president shook his head when asked if that meant mandating every American have health insurance coverage, as is the case under the Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but promised “an orderly transition out of Obamacare.”
“We don’t want anybody to be anxious who has an insurance through an exchange or through the process of Obamacare. We don’t want people to be concerned that they’re going to lose that coverage and face hardship for their families,” Pence said.
Pence said he interpreted Trump’s comments about a health care replacement law that provides for “insurance for everybody” to mean “making insurance affordable for everyone.”
“I think it means making insurance affordable for everyone, but also allowing for the kinds of reforms in Medicaid on a state by state basis that will ensure — that will make sure that we have healthcare coverage for the most vulnerable in our society,” Pence said.
Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch, have expressed concerns that Trump is setting expectations too high by promising health insurance coverage to all Americans. They have talked instead about “universal access” to health care coverage.
Pence also spoke in his interview with CNN about the first days of the administration, promising that Trump “is going to hit the ground running,” including by issuing a series of executive orders to create new policies but also repeal Obama administration policies over the course of the “first several weeks” of Trump’s term.
Incoming White House Pres Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday during a briefing with reporters that Trump will issue several organizational executive orders on Friday after he is inaugurated, but that the first policy-related executive orders are expected to come Monday.