Trump Insists He Wants to Make Obamacare Better and Cheaper, Not ‘Terminate’ It

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
April 12, 2024Politics
Trump Insists He Wants to Make Obamacare Better and Cheaper, Not ‘Terminate’ It
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on April 2, 2024. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

Former President Donald Trump has distanced himself from calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as “Obamacare,” instead vowing the make the healthcare program better and more affordable if he retakes the White House in 2024.

The former president and presumptive Republican 2024 presidential nominee shared a video to his Truth social media platform on Thursday in which he rebuffed charges from President Joe Biden that he will repeal the ACA.

“I’m not running to terminate the ACA, as crooked Joe Biden says all over the place,” President Trump’s video message began. “I’m running to close the border, stop inflation, make our economy great, strengthen our military, and make the ACA or Obamacare as it’s sometimes known, much better, stronger and far less expensive, because it’s much too expensive now, and it’s not very good.”

President Trump’s new comments on the ACA come as President Biden’s 2024 campaign has repeatedly targeted him on the issue of healthcare policy.

A Biden campaign ad released last month includes audio clips of President Trump expressing opposition to the ACA, alongside text that reads: “Donald Trump tried to rip away our health care. He failed. But he’s coming back for it.”

Pivoting Away From ‘Repeal and Replace’

The comments by the former president mark a shift in his messaging around the ACA.

Passing the ACA had been a major policy objective in President Barack Obama’s first term, marking a regulatory overhaul of the insurance industry. The legislation has required companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance plans for those employees, imposed certain coverage minimums on health insurance providers, and barred those insurance providers from from denying coverage or charging higher premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions. The legislation also imposed an individual insurance mandate, enforced through a penalty for uninsured individuals.

Numerous Republicans and conservatives have vowed to “repeal and replace” the ACA since it was enacted in 2010. President Trump adopted similar rhetoric during his 2016 campaign and after being elected, but a full repeal of the ACA has remained elusive.

Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House following the 2016 election and, for a time, appeared positioned to repeal the ACA.

Republicans advanced legislation in 2017 to repeal multiple portions of the ACA, but the effort failed by a single vote when Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sided with Democrats in opposing the deal.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included a provision to reduce the penalty for being uninsured to $0, defanging the penalty of the ACA’s individual mandate without actually repealing that aspect of the law.

Republican efforts to repeal the ACA have faltered in the years since, with Democrats flipping control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, and retaking the White House and the Senate after the 2020 elections.

In recent months, President Trump had still insisted he would “replace” the ACA.

“Getting much better Healthcare than Obamacare for the American people will be a priority of the Trump Administration,” the former president wrote in a Nov. 28, 2023 post on his Truth social account. “It is not a matter of cost, it is a matter of HEALTH. America will have one of the best Healthcare Plans anywhere in the world. Right now it has one of the WORST!”

President Trump insisted in a post the very next day, Nov. 29, that his plan is not to simply “terminate” the ACA.

“I don’t want to terminate Obamacare, I want to REPLACE IT with MUCH BETTER HEALTHCARE,” the former president’s Nov. 29 social media post reads. “Obamacare Sucks!!!”

President Trump’s latest comments on the ACA again indicate he is not seeking to simply terminate the legislation, but now suggest he wants to reform the existing legislation rather than replace it.

“We don’t want people paying the kind of numbers that they’re being forced to pay. It’s ridiculous to our great American citizens who have been decimated by Biden; his record, his inflation, his bad economy, Afghanistan catastrophe, and just about everything else.” President Trump said in his April 11 video message. “We’re going to make the ACA much better than it is right now and much less expensive for you.”

Biden Attacks Trump Over Safety Net Policies

President Trump’s April 11 video post about the ACA marks the second time in a month that he has rebuffed allegations from his 2020 rival and prospective 2024 opponent, that he plans to undercut existing social safety net policies.

Last month, the Biden campaign alleged President Trump had suggested cuts to Social Security and Medicare, prompting the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee to respond that he’ll “never do anything that will jeopardize or hurt Social Security or Medicare.”

The Biden campaign had attacked President Trump on Social Security and Medicare following a March 11 interview the former president gave with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” program. During that interview, CNBC host Joe Kernen had raised concerns about the growing U.S. national debt and how entitlement programs contribute to the growing debt, and how President Trump’s views on entitlement programs differ from those of the Biden administration.

“It’s almost a third rail of politics. And we’ve got to, what, a $33, $34 trillion total debt built up and very little we can do in terms of cutting spending. Discretionary is not going to help,” Mr. Kernen said during the interview. “Have you changed your outlook on how to handle entitlements Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Mr. President? Seems like something has to be done, or else we’re going to be stuck at 120 percent of debt to GDP forever.”

“So first of all, there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting, and in terms of also the theft and the bad management of entitlements, tremendous bad management of entitlements,” President Trump replied at the time. “There’s tremendous amounts of things and numbers of things you can do. So I don’t necessarily agree with the statement. I know that [the Biden administration is] going to end up weakening social security because the country is weak.”

The Biden campaign had cut a clip of the “Squawk Box” interview, and attributed to President Trump the quote, “There is a lot you can do in terms of cutting Social Security and Medicare.” The Trump campaign responded on X that its opponents were misrepresenting President Trump’s remarks.

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