WASHINGTON – "We're going to have insurance for everybody," President-elect Donald Trump told the Washington Post in an interview over the weekend, setting down a marker by which the health care plan he has promised can be judged.
In the interview, published Monday, Trump would not say how he would accomplish that goal and also meet his other promises: "It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better" than what's available under the current Affordable Care Act, he said.
Trump aides in the past have admonished reporters not to take his words "literally," which makes it hard to know if he really meant what he said.
If he did mean it, however, Trump's promise would imply a significant shift from previous Republican health care plans. Nonpartisan analyses have generally said that previous Republican plans would leave several million people who currently have insurance out in the cold, and Republican leaders have shied away from saying they would cover everyone.
"I don't want single-payer. What I do want is to be able to take care of people," Trump said.
In an interview Monday morning on the "Today" show, Trump's designated press secretary, Sean Spicer, said that Trump would achieve his goals through "marketplace solutions" and greater competition. That would "drive the cost down," he said.
At his news conference last week, Trump said his administration would propose a health care plan that would include a full replacement for the current health care law and would do so quickly — within a few weeks of the confirmation of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., his pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department. That confirmation, however, is not expected to happen until some time in February at the earliest.
In the interview, Trump said the plan was almost finished. "It's very much formulated down to the final strokes. We haven't put it in quite yet but we're going to be doing it soon," he said.
He also repeated his attack on the drug industry for charging too much.
"They're politically protected, but not anymore," he said of pharmaceutical companies.
Trump has said that he wants the federal government to have authority to negotiate prices with drug companies, something Democrats have pushed in the past, but Republicans have blocked.