WASHINGTON — White House officials, desperate to demonstrate progress on President Donald Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, are pushing to resurrect a Republican health care bill before his 100th day in office next week.
Some members of the president’s team have grown consumed by that deadline, worrying appraisals of the president’s tenure will be brutal and hoping a last push on health care might bring a measure of salvation.
But Congress usually cannot take on two big things at once. At the same moment Trump hits his 100th day on April 29, Republican congressional leaders face a far more urgent deadline: Much of the federal government will run out of money.
Reaching agreement to keep the government open past midnight that Friday will be the first priority of Republican leaders when Congress returns Monday from a two-week recess.
The president himself has not laid down a hard deadline on the health care bill. “We have a good chance of getting it soon,” Trump said in a news conference Thursday. “I’d like to say next week, but it will be — I believe we will get it. And whether it’s next week or shortly thereafter.”
Republican leaders and the White House have been searching for a health care agreement that could placate enough moderates and hard-line conservatives to win passage in the House.
The latest version of the proposal, published Thursday morning by Politico, would maintain popular benefits in President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, such as guaranteed coverage for emergency services and maternity care. It would also preserve the health law’s ban on insurers rejecting customers with pre-existing medical conditions.
But under this Affordable Care Act replacement, states could seek waivers from many of those mandates if they demonstrate that premiums would be lowered, the number of insured people would increase, or “the public interest of the state” would be advanced.
States could request an exemption from the rule intended to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions could not be charged prohibitive premiums — but only if those states establish a high-risk insurance pool.
And Democrats — whose votes will be needed to keep the government open — will have their own demands, most importantly billions of dollars to lower out-of-pocket spending for low-income Americans purchasing health coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces.