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A sign riffing off President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan is held at a Feb. 25 rally in Washington, D.C. in support of the Affordable Care act, also known as Obamacare. (Photo: Ted Eytan/flickr/cc)

Congressman to Trump: If Your Healthcare Plan's So "Fantastic," Let Us See It

Resolution from Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) to would force debate as patients and healthcare providers grapple with 'crippling uncertainty'

Deirdre Fulton

Speaking to the nation's governors on Monday, President Donald Trump mused that "nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated," while reiterating that on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, his administration has "come up with a solution that's really, really I think very good."

He similarly bragged to health insurers later in the day: "We have a plan that I think is going to be fantastic. It's going to be released fairly soon."

But U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) has heard that vague promise one too many times—now, he wants to know specifics.

Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, seen here attending 2013 House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

According to the North Attleboro, Massachusetts Sun-Chronicle, Kennedy "filed a resolution of inquiry Monday calling for the secretary of health and human services to hand over the department's health care plans."

The obscure parliamentary maneuver, which can be employed by lawmakers to obtain information from the executive branch, is the same one Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) is attempting to use to probe Trump's conflicts of interest and Russia ties. Kennedy is a co-sponsor of Nadler's measure.

"For months, President Trump and the GOP-led Congress have left patients, hospitals, behavioral health providers, and local economies in crippling uncertainty," Kennedy said Monday.

As Politico reports:

Trump throughout his campaign publicly pledged to quickly kill and replace Obamacare, while never getting specific about what the alternative would look like. After the election, however, he's appeared at times to waffle about yanking the law, tweeting on Jan. 4 that it would be more politically savvy to let Democrats own the Obamacare "disaster."

Recently he's promised to release his Obamacare alternative plan by early to mid-March, but there's been trepidation among some Republicans, especially after many GOP lawmakers were forced to confront angry constituents at recent town halls who are worried about losing their healthcare.

Little clarity appears to have come out of Monday's meeting with governors. The Hill reported that attendees at the meeting "indicated the message was that the administration's plan would be ready 'within a few weeks'"—though there was discrepancy between when Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the plan would be released (three weeks) and Trump's estimate (two weeks).

Furthermore, The Hill wrote:

There has been some confusion as to whether the administration is putting forward its own plan or is working with the GOP in Congress.

Congressional Republicans are looking to move forward with committee markups on legislation in the House within a few weeks.

A separate plan from the White House could throw a curveball into the process and shift the debate.

But "[w]hile Republicans focus on political consequences, American families are facing personal ones—providers forced to curb access to care, insurers unable to commit to long-term benefits, and patients facing everything from cancer to addiction without the guarantee that they'll be able to afford the treatment they need," Kennedy continued.

Kennedy's office said hundreds of constituents have contacted the congressman with such concerns.

"Instead of shadow policy-making built on rumors and leaks, this resolution will force Congress and the Trump administration to have the honest, open ACA debate that the American public deserves," he added.

The Sun-Chronicle reported:

The resolution is likely to be referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which Kennedy is a member.

If the resolution does not get a committee vote within 14 days, it goes to the House floor, according to Kennedy's office.

Hundreds rallied nationwide on Saturday to protest Republican efforts to gut the ACA and other vital healthcare programs.


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