Trump says new GOP health care plan will have lower premiums

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U.S. Trump appears on stage at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 29, 2017.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTS14ID5

President Donald Trump appears on stage at an April 29 rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. President Donald Trump is promoting a revamped health care overhaul effort after failing to advance legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in his first three months in office. Photo by REUTERS/Carlo Allegri.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is promoting a revamped health care overhaul effort after failing to advance legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in his first three months in office.

Trump tweeted Sunday that a “new healthcare plan is on its way,” promising lower premiums and protection for people with pre-existing conditions. The House did not vote last week on a renewed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but the White House remains hopeful action could come soon.

The president has spent much of his first 100 days in office reckoning with the realities of governing, even with a Republican-led Congress. While health care negotiations continue to prove a challenge, negotiators reached agreement Sunday on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill that would fund the day-to-day operations of virtually every federal agency to Oct. 1.

The House and Senate have until Friday at midnight to pass the measure to avert a government shutdown. The catchall spending bill would be the first major piece of bipartisan legislation to advance during Trump’s short tenure in the White House. It denies Trump funding for his oft-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but gives him a down payment on his request to strengthen the military and money for border security measures.

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The failure of the original health care bill was a heavy blow in the early days of the Trump administration. Under White House pressure, Republicans recently recast the bill.

Critics have raised concerns about how the latest version of House Republicans’ American Health Care Act would impact people with pre-existing conditions. The bill would allow states to opt out of the requirement for standard premiums, under certain circumstances.

If a state maintains safeguards such as a high-risk pool, it can allow insurers to use health status as a factor in setting premiums for people who have had a break in coverage and are trying to get a new individual policy. Critics say there is no requirement that a state must provide an affordable coverage option for those consumers.

But during an interview with “Face the Nation” on CBS that aired Sunday, Trump said: “Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, ‘Pre-existing is not covered.’ Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.'”

Trump added that the measure has a “clause that guarantees” that people with pre-existing conditions will be covered.

Asked to explain Trump’s statements, spokesman Sean Spicer said Sunday that under the current version people with pre-existing conditions who maintain coverage will not be impacted. He said waivers would change how states could treat those who don’t maintain insurance and they could find ways to “incentivize people to obtain coverage before they fall ill.” He also said states would need to have high-risk pools to get waivers.

Trump also said during the interview that if he’s unable to renegotiate a long-standing free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, then he’ll terminate the pact.

He also spoke about tensions with North Korea. Asked about the failure of several North Korean missile tests recently, Trump said he’d “rather not discuss it. But perhaps they’re just not very good missiles. But eventually, he’ll have good missiles.”

Trump also said he is willing to use the trade issue as leverage to get China’s help with North Korea. “Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.”

Trump on first 100 days: ‘I thought it would be easier’

And he acknowledged the presidency is “a tough job. But I’ve had a lot of tough jobs. I’ve had things that were tougher, although I’ll let you know that better at the end of eight years. Perhaps eight years. Hopefully, eight years.”

Also this week, the president will welcome Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House. And he’ll head to New York City on Thursday where he’ll visit the USS Intrepid to mark the 75th anniversary of a World War II naval battle.

On Sunday morning, Trump visited the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. The White House did not provide any information on whether he was holding meetings or golfing.

Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

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