WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he had called the top Senate Democrat to probe interest in working on a “great” healthcare bill to replace Obamacare, after his fellow Republicans’ failed attempts to roll back the law.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump had told him during the phone call on Friday that he wanted to try again to repeal and replace the law formally known as the Affordable Care Act.
“I told the president that’s off the table,” Schumer said in a statement. “If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions.”
Republicans fell short several times this year in their drive to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment, a promise they had campaigned on for seven years. Trump has been frustrated by the failure, openly taunting Republicans as “total quitters” and “fools” this summer over their inability in the Senate to replace Obamacare.
“I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!”
Axios first reported Trump’s call to Schumer on Friday.
Schumer pointed to bipartisan efforts by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray to repair Obamacare as “a good place to start.”
Alexander pulled out of the talks last month as a new Republican bill to repeal Obamacare gained momentum. After that bill collapsed, Alexander said he would again consult with Murray.
Although Democrats have been mostly united against Trump’s agenda, there is some precedent for a bipartisan deal. Last month, Trump sided with Democrats in a surprising debt limit deal that blindsided Republicans and left conservative groups aghast.
But there are still wide policy differences between Democrats and Trump. His administration on Friday undermined requirements under Obamacare that employers provide insurance to cover women’s birth control.
A new rule will allow businesses or non-profit organizations to lodge religious or moral objections to obtain an exemption from the law’s mandate that employers provide contraceptives coverage in health insurance with no co-payment.
A Democratic aide said the Trump administration would have to abandon such efforts before it could reach a healthcare deal with Republicans.
“Particularly after the birth control decision yesterday, the administration has to stop sabotaging the law before anything real can happen,” the aide said on condition of anonymity.
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday undermined requirements under the Obamacare law that employers provide insurance to cover women’s birth control, keeping a campaign pledge that pleased his conservative Christian supporters.
New rules from the Department of Health and Human Services will let businesses or non-profit organizations lodge religious or moral objections to obtain an exemption from the law’s mandate that employers provide contraceptives coverage in health insurance with no co-payment.
Conservative Christian activists and congressional Republicans praised the move, while reproductive rights advocates and Democrats criticized it. It was unclear how many employers would actually drop birth control coverage on religious grounds, and there were significant doubts that many big ones would.
Within hours, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the administration in federal court in San Francisco to try to halt the rule, claiming among other things that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s requirement for separation of church and state.
The states of Massachusetts and California also sued, and Democratic state attorneys general in another 16 states threatened legal action.
“This is a landmark day for religious liberty. Under the Obama administration, this constitutional right was seriously eroded,” Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said.
“The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said.
“With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control,” Richards added.
Trump, who criticized the birth control mandate in last year’s election campaign, won strong support from conservative Christian voters. The Republican president signed an executive order in May asking for rules that would allow faith-based groups to deny insurance coverage for services they oppose on religious grounds.
The contraception mandate was implemented as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Trump and Republicans in Congress campaigned against Obamacare, as the law is known, but could not get enough votes to repeal it as they had promised.
In its reasoning for the move, the administration said among other things that mandating birth control coverage could foster “risky sexual behavior” among teens and young adults. It overturned the Obama administration’s view that the birth control requirement was necessary to meet the government’s “compelling interest” to protect women’s health.