US President Donald Trump urged Republican senators in a tweet on Friday to repeal Obamacare immediately if they cannot agree on a new plan to replace it, muddying the waters as congressional leaders struggle for consensus on healthcare legislation.
Senate Republican leaders had set Friday as the target for rewriting legislation for a simultaneous repeal and replacement of extensive parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the law dubbed Obamacare that expanded health insurance coverage to 20 million people.
The deadline seemed unlikely to be met given that most senators had left Washington ahead of next week’s recess, without agreement on a clear direction for the healthcare bill, and Trump’s tweet did not appear to gain political traction.
Financial markets showed little reaction to Trump’s suggestion, with the benchmark S&P 500 index edging about 0,15 percent higher on the day. Shares of most health insurers gained fractionally while hospital stocks were little changed.
Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning, “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”
The White House said later that Trump was still “fully committed” to pushing the Republican draft healthcare bill through the Senate, although it was looking at every option for repealing and replacing Obamacare.
“The president hasn’t changed his thinking at all,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.
The current Senate legislation would repeal parts of Obamacare, roll back its expansion of the Medicaid government healthcare programme for the poor, eliminate most of Obamacare’s taxes and replace Obamacare insurance subsidies with a system of tax credits to help individuals buy private health insurance. — Reuters