President Trump on Friday said it's time for congressional Democrats to work out a deal with him on how to overhaul Obamacare, now that Trump has eliminated billions of dollars in subsidies to health insurers.
"What would be nice [is] if the Democratic leaders could come over to the White House, we'll negotiate some deal that's good for everybody," Trump said at the White House. "That's what I'd like."
"The Democrats should come to me, I would even go to them," he added.
Trump invited that discussion just after he moved to end cost-sharing subsidies that the federal government pays out to insurers to help offset the costs of covering people under Obamacare. The administration said a court had ruled Congress never authorized the payment of those subsidies, which was the basis of Trump's decision to cancel them.
Democrats railed against that decision and said it would hurt millions of people indirectly by hurting insurance companies. Trump rejected that logic.
"The subsidy is really a subsidy to the insurance company. That's not going to people," he said. "That's making insurance companies rich."
Still, Trump doubted whether Democrats would seek him out for a negotiation.
"They're always a bloc vote against everything," he said. "They're like obstructionists. If they came over, maybe we could make a deal."
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney also indicated that Trump is willing to talk with Democrats.
"The president has said pretty clearly that he's willing to talk to just about anybody about repealing and replacing [Obamacare]," Mulvaney said an interview with Politico. "But if the straight-up question is: Is the president interested in continuing what he sees as corporate welfare and bailouts for the insurance companies? No."
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has been working on a bipartisan deal to help stabilize the Obamacare exchanges, one that would include two years of funding for the payments. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the committee's chairman, told reporters last week that Democrats, led by top-ranking Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., had not offered enough flexibility, both in how states could implement Obamacare and how quickly the changes they made to the law could be greenlighted by federal officials.
"Instead of saying what we might support, I'd say I'm pretty sure what we won't support, which is just a clean Murray-Alexander bill," Mulvaney said. He added that the funding could alternatively be used as a bargaining chip to fund a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
It's unclear what proposals Republicans have been offered on healthcare. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., did not elaborate on the details of the package in a call with reporters Friday. Democrats have said that they do not want to offer flexibility on the law that would affect insurance requirements like providing a wide range of medical services, from maternity care to addiction treatment.