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Trump says he may keep parts of Obamacare after promising to repeal and replace it

By Noam N. Levey Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump signaled a willingness Friday not to repeal all of the Affordable Care Act, saying in an interview that he would keep several popular provisions.

“Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal in something of a retreat from his campaign promise to throw out the whole law.

Trump indicated that he might keep several provisions, such as the law’s insurance guarantee, which requires that insurers cover Americans even if they are sick.

He also said he likes a provision in the law that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans until they are 26.

Trump said he had been persuaded to look at these provisions after meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama this week.

“I told him I will look at his suggestions, and out of respect, I will do that,” Trump said.

The two provisions are among the most popular in the health law, which Obama signed in 2010.

And congressional Republicans have signaled for several years that they would keep them in any repeal program that they develop.

But keeping the insurance guarantee while gutting other parts of the health law could prove problematic for Trump and his congressional allies.

And Trump’s comment underscores the challenges facing Republicans if they move to repeal and potentially replace Obamacare.

There is widespread agreement that it is impossible to require insurers to cover sick people without also including some mechanism that compels people to get insurance when they are healthy and without some financial aid to help people buy coverage.

Without these tools, an insurance guarantee would likely leave insurers only covering sick people, which would in turn make coverage increasingly unaffordable.

The health law provides these additional tools to make the guarantee work. It includes a penalty on people who don’t get coverage and hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people buy coverage.

But Republicans have pledged to eliminate the mandate, which is very unpopular, and slash the subsidies, which are costly.

To date, Trump has not indicated how he would replace the mandate and the subsidies that help make the insurance work.

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