President Donald Trump called Obamacare “an absolute disaster” and declared Republicans “are on the winning side” of health care as the issue returns to the spotlight while legal challenges drag on in federal court.
The president’s comments come after the Department of Justice this week backed a federal judge's ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be overturned, reigniting the debate over the health care law after Republicans failed to repeal and replace the law in 2017.
“The cost to people is far too much,” Trump said. “Obamacare has been a disaster. We will take care of pre-existing conditions better than they’re taken care of now, and I’ve already gotten rid of the individual mandate.”
Trump expressed patience for the timeline, and comfort in allowing the courts to settle the health care showdown.
“We’re working on a plan now. There’s no very great rush from the standpoint we’re waiting for decisions in the courts,” Trump said. “I think we’ll win.”
Trump added that he’s asked Sens. John Barrasso, Bill Cassidy, Rick Scott and others to “form a really great plan” and “come up with something that’s really spectacular.”
“If decisions are held up, if we win on the termination of Obamacare, we will have a plan that is far better than Obamacare, including – very importantly, preexisting conditions, which I’ve always been in favor of,” Trump said.
Congressional Democrats are blasting the administration, while some Republicans are even expressing reservations about the shift in policy, scrambling to come up with an alternative.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly phoned President Donald Trump to convey his disagreement with DOJ’s support to overturn the entire law, according to Axios.
McCarthy attempted some damage control on Thursday, arguing to reporters that Republicans and Trump still support protecting pre-existing conditions, while warning about the impacts "Medicare-for-all" -- as envisioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders -- would have on privately-insured Americans.
"What the Democrats have moved on to now is Medicare for all - that would remove hundreds of millions of Americans from their ability to have health care, because they would no longer have private insurance," McCarthy, R-Calif., said.
McCarthy scheduled a meeting Wednesday with Republican ranking members from committees of jurisdiction -- “working on making sure we have our health care bill out there.”
“We’re working on it right now,” McCarthy told reporters Wednesday. “I think health care is an important issue for all Americans. We want to make sure that all Americans have the ability to have greater choice, lower costs and higher quality, and that’s what we’re working towards.”
But Democrats worry that millions of Americans could lose their insurance if the law is struck without a safety net in place to help people who currently rely on Obamacare – a frustration is shared throughout the Democratic caucus, with New York freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez telling ABC News she’s “upset.”
“I’m not shocked because this entire administration and the Republican Party seems hell bent on making health care more expensive and skyrocketing prescription drug prices because they care more about corporate profits than they do about the livability and cost of living of American people,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This means that insulin is going to get more expensive. This means that less people are going to be covered by health insurance. And this is putting people’s lives at risk. So, I’m not surprised but I am disappointed, and I’m upset.”
While the challenge to Obamacare is almost certain to drag on into the 2020 election, Ocasio-Cortez signaled Democrats shouldn’t wait for the Supreme Court to hear the matter and should use their majority to pass legislation to protect the law.
“What we’re trying to do I think is respond immediately and have a legislative response as things work their way through the courts,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We’re trying to shore up and strengthen the ACA.”
ABC News' Ben Siegel contributed to this report