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Trump's PPACA replacement plan sounds quite a bit like PPACA

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(Bloomberg Politics) — Donald Trump says Obamacare, the law officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), is “very bad” and needs to go. “Repeal and replace with something terrific,” he told CNN on Wednesday.

What would the terrific replacement be?

The Republican presidential front-runner was vague, but health experts say that a number of the broad replacement ideas he outlined sound similar to PPACA.

Trump proposed: competing private plans (which the PPACA exchanges provide for); protecting hospitals from catastrophic events (which the PPACA deals with by requiring people to get insurance so they don’t pass on their emergency care costs), and government plans for low-income people who get sick and lack options (which PPACA does by expanding Medicaid).

See also: Defying doubters, Donald Trump makes presidential bid official

The Obama administration calls the package of laws that includes PPACA and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA) the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Trump ”should take a closer look at the ACA, he might like it,” said Timothy Jost, a leading expert on Obamacare who supports the law. “What he is proposing does look a lot like the ACA,” added Jost, a professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University School of Law. He noted that Trump backs competing private plans for middle and upper income people, as well as some form basic coverage for people who can’t afford to buy their own health insurance.

Larry Levitt, a health care expert at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, also saw parallels between Trump’s proposals and the ACA.

“At the talking point level, a plan like the ACA has broad political appeal,” Levitt said. “It’s maybe not so surprising that Donald Trump’s talking points sound a bit like the ACA, since the law is rooted in a lot of conservative ideas. His emphasis on it being private and competitive is interesting. In fact, the ACA is a giant bet on a competitive, private health insurance system.”

As opposed, that is, to a single-payer, government-run health care plan, which is favored by left-of-center Democrats such Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s making a strong showing as a presidential contender.

See also: What 10 Republican presidential hopefuls say they’d do first

Broad strokes aside, Trump didn’t specify how he would achieve each of the goals he outlined, leaving it unclear whether and how he would depart from the approach under PPACA in some cases. Levitt did detect one potential major difference between Obamacare and a potential Trumpcare: Trump suggested that he wants to let insurers sell across state lines, a far-reaching change from the president’s plan, which established state exchanges.

As Obama does in promoting PPACA, Trump emphasized the value of universal coverage. That includes people “at the lower end” of the income spectrum, he said, who won’t get “the finest plan” but deserve to be covered. He was unapologetic about his goal to help provide health care for low-income people, even if it costs him the Republican nomination.

“Where I may be different than other people—I want to take care of everybody,” the real estate mogul told CNN in the interview. “You have a group of people that aren’t able to take care of themselves. I can’t even imagine.”