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The White House is quietly working on a healthcare policy proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter.

While it is not clear how far along the process is, work on a proposal has been going on for months. The effort appears to belie criticism that Trump’s decision to restart the debate on healthcare, an issue Democrats used to their advantage in the 2018 midterms, was an error committed without forethought.

“The White House, mainly through the National Economic Council, has been engaged on thinking about health care reform for a while now, and they have been engaged with a group of center-right health policy groups to talk about various proposals and ideas,” a conservative health policy analyst told the Washington Examiner.

The analyst said the administration has been “having conversations” on healthcare policy and has reached out to numerous think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation, the Mercatus Center, and the Hoover Institute.

“They’ve had conversations for the last several months and as recently as a few weeks ago,” the analyst said. “Before the president said what he said, they’d been consistently focused on working on a healthcare plan.”

Trump said Tuesday that Republicans would soon become the “party of healthcare.” The remark was surprising to many, in light of Republicans’ failure to repeal Obamacare the drubbing the GOP took in the midterms. Many Republican lawmakers insist that they won’t act on legislation until Trump comes up with a plan.

Then on Thursday, while speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump said his administration was “working on a plan now” — though he said there was “no great rush” to roll out a proposal and added that he was waiting for the courts to repeal the ACA.

The president brought up healthcare again on Friday, claiming he would have a “much better” plan than Obamacare. “The health care’s going very well,” he told reporters in Florida.

The White House did not provide a comment, pointing instead to Trump’s statements on Thursday.

Policy leaders at several conservative think tanks confirmed to the Examiner that a healthcare plan is indeed the works. They said a proposal would take concepts from the Graham-Cassidy bill, by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and the Health Care Choices proposal, which was signed by many conservative policy leaders, including the Heritage Foundation and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn. One analyst said a White House proposal would most likely be brought up in the Senate first.

Heritage Foundation Director of Domestic Policy Studies Marie Fishpaw noted that the president has already included concepts from the Health Care Choices proposal in his 2020 budget.

The proposal, according to Fishpaw, “would lower premiums by up to a third, lowering costs while also protecting people with pre-existing conditions.” It would replace federal payments to insurance companies with grants for each state, giving individual states more leeway to determine how to use the money.

One conservative policy analyst said that although the White House is definitely “exploring” the healthcare issue, it does not seem ready to unveil a proposal.

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s fully formed,” the analyst said. “I think a lot of the devil’s in the details.”

A spokeswoman for Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman, Ark., who has announced his own wide-ranging health reform plan, confirmed that the White House is “serious” about working on health care, but she said she thought lawmakers would take the initiative on the issue.

“Most likely, the effort will be from Congress,” she said.

Trump has already asked a group of Senate Republicans, including John Barrasso of Wyoming, Rick Scott of Florida and Cassidy to come up with a replacement for Obamacare. But other Senate Republicans, including Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have indicated an unwillingness to get moving on the issue until Trump puts forth his own proposal.

“I’m anxious to see what the White House is going to recommend in terms of a healthcare delivery system that looks like somebody designed the damn thing on purpose,” Kennedy said.

Author: Emily Ward

Source: Washingtonexaminer: White House working on secret healthcare plan with three conservative think tanks

President Trump, often criticized for his stance toward women, employs more women as senior advisers than former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton did at the similar points in their presidencies.

Given the relative paucity of female senior presidential advisers prior to Clinton, Trump’s employment of women as key advisers at this early point in his presidency may be higher than any other president’s in history.

At the beginning of the third year of his first term as president, Trump has seven female top advisers, as compared to five for Obama, three for Bush, and five for Clinton at that point. He had eight as of December 2018, when United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley departed the administration.

The top advisers are White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway; CIA Director Gina Haspel, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, senior adviser Ivanka Trump, Director of Legislative Affairs Shahira Knight, and Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp.

Trump reportedly will also nominate more women to powerful positions soon, such as U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft for U.N. ambassador and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu for associate attorney general, a key post currently held by Rod Rosenstein.

The Examiner selected the women included in this comparison, both from the Trump White House and previous administrations, based not just on their formal titles, but on the power and influence with the president they have been understood to wield.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, for example, were not included.

Schlapp said the president “surrounds himself with very strong women with strong voices” who give him advice on a range of policy areas, such as the economy, education, and trade.

“We all have a seat at the table,” she told the Examiner.

A former senior White House official said Trump “always understood the value women bring” to the workplace and appreciated their perspectives.

“He treats people equally,” the official said. “He values merit and quality of work, regardless of any other attributes including gender.”

The former official said Trump seemed to let his guard down more with women than with men and that it seemed easier for him to operate around women and trust them.

Former White House Communications Director Mike Dubke called the president an “equal opportunity” listener who “did not discriminate based on gender” whether he was happy — or upset — with staff.

Tammy Vigil, a Boston University professor who specializes in the American presidency and gender in politics, found it “surprising” that Trump has hired as many women as he has, adding that “it’s a wonderful thing” when women are brought to the forefront in politics. But she argued that these high-profile women often have to “work around the truth” to cover for Trump’s erroneous statements.

“It compromises their integrity,” Vigil said. “They have to sort of give up their own honesty and integrity in order to serve the male president, which is not a good look for women, even if they are in positions of power.”

Vigil also said she thinks Trump views women in a transactional way, as “tools for his benefit.”

“Why is he hiring these women? He’s getting something out of it,” she said.

Trump has a history of misogynistic treatment of women. He has insulted their physical appearances and compared them to animals. Twenty-three women have accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape and other forms of sexual assault.

Schlapp thinks allegations of misogyny against Trump are “outrageous.”

“I have always felt respected by the president,” Schlapp said. “He is someone who values my opinion and my insight. Those of us who work with him get to see his compassion.”

Trump particularly valued the opinion of former Communications Director Hope Hicks, who departed the administration in February 2018. Hicks “was always in the room,” according to Dubke, and the president frequently asked for her thoughts on various matters.

Ivanka Trump has become one of his closest advisers, despite reported attempts by her father and former chief of staff John Kelly to push her and her husband Jared Kushner out of the White House. Conway and Sarah Sanders have stayed with Trump since his campaign, a feat few of either sex have accomplished in an administration infamous for high employee turnover.

Shahira Knight, though not frequently in the spotlight, has reportedly won the president’s confidence and respect, and Nielsen fought her way back into Trump’s inner circle despite nearly getting fired in November.

Alana Jeydel, an Allendale Columbia School professor who specializes in women in politics, said the appointment of qualified women to top positions is important.

“Any woman, from any walk of life, should be able to look to the government and see people like them, and know that is a job that they could hold if they wanted to,” Jeydel said.

Mary-Kate Lizotte, an Augusta University professor specializing in gender and politics, agreed but said this effect could be diminished by negative coverage of Trump’s sexist comments.

“I don’t think it’s gotten as much attention as the fact that he’s said things that are sexist,” Lizotte said. “It might not have as much of an effect because of negative coverage.”

Obama’s female advisers during the beginning of the third year of his first White House term included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Bush employed national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Domestic Policy Council Director Margaret Spellings, and Staff Secretary Harriet Miers, and Clinton employed press secretary Dee Dee Myers, Attorney General Janet Reno, Council of Economic Affairs Chairwoman Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Director of the Administration Office Patsy Thomasson, and Domestic Policy Council Director Carol Rasco.

Author: Emily Ward

Source: Washingtonexaminer: Trump has more women as top advisers than Obama, Bush, or Clinton

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