White House promotes latest health care bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is promoting a new health care proposal that the president insists will lower premiums and guarantee insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, even though some medical groups say they aren’t so sure.

Gary Cohn, chairman of Trump’s economic council, said the overhaul appears to have enough votes to pass. “This is going to be a great week,” Cohn told “CBS This Morning.” `’We’re going to get the health care bill to the floor of the House, I’m very confident.”

But later in the day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared to tamp down expectations, telling reporters, “We’re not there yet,” but adding that the Trump administration is “getting closer and closer every day.”

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.

Still, 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.

During an interview with “Face the Nation” on CBS that aired Sunday, Trump said: “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.

But while the bill says people with pre-existing conditions will have “access,” it does not address affordability. The legislation would let states opt out of the requirement for standard premiums, under certain conditions. If a state maintains protections 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.

Last week, the American Medical Association said the Republican protections “may be illusory” and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network expressed concern that the plan could return the U.S. to a “patchwork system” that drives up insurance costs for the sick.

Asked to explain Trump’s statements, spokesman Sean Spicer said Sunday that under the current version of the measure, people with pre-existing conditions who maintain coverage will not be affected. 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.”

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.

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