By threatening his fellow Republicans with the fact that he’s willing to work with Democrats on healthcare reform, President Donald Trump probably thinks he’s being politically savvy or showing off his deal-making skills.
In reality, his latest comments on the issue are hardly credible given everything this administration and Trump’s own party have done lately to take healthcare coverage away from millions of Americans.
Sandwiched among several Saturday tweets shared from the comfort of one of his golf resorts, Trump bragged that he had called Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Friday to see if Democrats would be willing to work with him on healthcare reform. This comes after Republicans repeatedly tried and failed to repeal Obamacare.
“Who knows!” Trump tweeted about the chances of working with Democrats to “fix” healthcare.
This tweet was sent, and the phone call was made, as the administration continues to attack Obamacare. On Friday, the White House rolled back an Affordable Care Act requirement that employers must include birth control in their health insurance plans.
Under the new rules, which took effect immediately, “any for-profit or non-profit employer or insurer can stop following the birth control mandate on moral and religious grounds,” The Hill reported. Plus, they don’t even have to file anything with the government to do so—employers can simply tell their employees that birth control will no longer be covered.
The ACLU said it is suing to block the new rules.
By no means is this the only way the Trump administration and the GOP are attacking Obamacare. The White House currently is trying to destroy it on several fronts. For example, the administration has cut Obamacare funding for advertising and outreach by 90%, and funding for outside groups to enroll people in the program by 41% as fall enrollment approaches, The Hill reported.
The enrollment period has also been chopped in half, and the administration announced plans to take down the Healthcare.gov website for maintenance for hours at a time on several days during the sign-up period, two other steps likely to cut into enrollment.
All of these steps could lead fewer people to sign up for the law, which in turn might lead to higher premiums that could force others off the exchanges.
In a long Twitter thread on Thursday, President Obama’s former healthcare adviser Andy Slavitt laid out a detailed description of what he described as the new Republican strategy to destroy the Affordable Care Act through “synthetic repeal.”
The strategy, Slavitt says, relies on executive orders, the Republican tax and budget plans, and sabotage of the ACA, which he notes is now being carried out in the open.
Given all of this, why in the world would Democrats work with Trump on healthcare?
Schumer said he responded to the president’s overture by saying that he is willing to improve the existing healthcare structure, but unwilling to do anything that would repeal Obamacare, The Washington Post reported.
According to the Post, Schumer added:
The president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that’s off the table. If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions. A good place to start might be the Alexander-Murray negotiations that would stabilize the system and lower costs.