President-elect Donald Trump reversed himself on completely eliminating the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health law, saying instead he would keep two popular features and pledged no gap in coverage as it’s replaced.
In an interview with Lesley Stahl that aired Sunday on “60 Minutes,” Trump said he would like to keep the portions of the law requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions and children living at home under the age of 26, according to excerpts of the interview released by CBS News.
The ban on insurers denying coverage to individuals who are sick “happens to be one of the strongest assets,” of the Affordable Care Act, Trump said. He acknowledged that keeping the provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans for a period of time “adds cost, but it’s very much something we’re going to try and keep.”
The president-elect said he plans to repeal the law, commonly known as Obamacare, and replace it new regulations “simultaneously.”
“I know how to do this stuff,” he said. “We’re going to repeal it and replace it. And we’re not going to have, like, a two-day period and we’re not going to have a two-year period where there’s nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. I mean, you’ll know. And it’ll be great health care for much less money.”
Earlier Friday, Trump was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying that Obama suggested areas of the health law to keep during his Thursday meeting with the President.
Shares of healthcare companies appeared to have mixed reactions. HCA Holdings Inc., the largest U.S. hospital chain, pared losses to 3.4 percent, from as much as 5.6 percent. Centene Corp., which sells Medicaid and Obamacare plans, closed near its lows of the day, down 8.6 percent.
On the campaign trail, Trump called for “repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare.” His initial health plan, published Thursday on his transition website, also called for scuttling the health law.
“A Trump Administration will work with Congress to repeal the ACA and replace it with a solution that includes Health Savings Accounts, and returns the historic role in regulating health insurance to the States,” according to the website.
His transition website lays out an approach to the issue of coverage for individuals who are sick with so-called “pre-existing conditions” that’s different from the ACA. On the site, Trump says he’d use high-risk pools — state insurance programs for individuals who are sick or otherwise unable to get coverage — to cover those with large medical expenses who have “not maintained continuous coverage.”
Both of the features of the ACA that Trump said he favors are also included in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s health plan. Ryan’s plan is widely viewed as a road map to conservative ideas that could replace the Affordable Care Act.
–With assistance from Sahil Kapur.
Copyright 2016 Bloomberg.