A book detailing the first year of President Trump's time in office claims he floated the idea of covering all Americans through Medicare and had little interest in repealing Obamacare.
"All things considered, he probably preferred the notion of more people having health insurance than fewer people having it," Michael Wolff writes in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. "He was even, when push came to shove, rather more for Obamacare than for repealing Obamacare."
Trump also reportedly asked his aides aloud, "Why can't Medicare simply cover everybody?"
Medicare is the government-funded program that covers people 65 and older. The proposal to extend Medicare to all Americans, which would remove people from private health insurance plans, has support from 16 Senate Democrats and is led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has been a longtime supporter of the proposal and made it a central campaign pledge when he ran for president.
The book goes on to say that Trump wasn't interested in the details of the legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Tom Price, a Republican congressman from Georgia at the time, met with Trump to arrange for the law's repeal. Ryan convinced Trump that repeal of the law would pave the way for tax reform and an infrastructure package. During the meeting, Trump also agreed to make Price secretary of Health and Human Services, the book said. Price resigned in September after an investigation found he had spent $1 million on charter jets for travel, rather than fly commercial.
Trump went along with the plan to support repealing Obamacare, the book said, because he was "simply trying to get out from under something he didn't especially care about" and had "likely never had a meaningful discussion in his life about health insurance."
The late Roger Ailes, who was chairman and CEO at Fox News, told Wolff that "no one in the country, or on earth, has given less thought to health insurance than Donald."
Wolff detailed Trump's feelings about Obamacare repeal in the book.
"Trump had little or no interest in the central Republican goal of repealing Obamacare," Wolff wrote. "The details of the contested legislation were, to him, particularly boring; his attention would begin wandering from the first words of a policy discussion. He would have been able to enumerate few of the particulars of Obamacare — other than expressing glee about the silly Obama pledge that everyone could keep his or her doctor — and he certainly could not make any kind of meaningful distinction, positive or negative, between the healthcare system before Obamacare and the one after."
The White House and reporters who cover Trump have said that the book contains many inaccuracies. Trump made the campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare, and during his first year in office signed a tax overhaul bill into law that repealed the law's mandate that people buy health insurance or pay a fine.
News reports around the time that a repeal and replace bill was being debated in Congress said Trump had no interest in the details of the legislation. Shortly after he was elected he told the Washington Post that he believed in "insurance for everybody."