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Trump courts governors, health insurer CEOs

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President Donald Trump stepped up efforts to build support for his administration’s health system change efforts today at two events in the White House.

“Obamacare has been a disaster, and it’s only getting worse,” Trump told health insurance company chief executive officers who came in for a meeting in the Oval Office, according a transcript provided by the White House.

Related: Trump tells insurers to expect `something special’

Later, Trump told a banquet hall full of governors that trying to change the current Affordable Care Act system is politically risky but the right thing to do.

Right now, Trump said, people are starting to think that they like the current system because they’ve gotten used to it and are a little sad to see it go.

But “it’s a disaster,” Trump said, according to a video of the event posted by the White House. “There’s nothing to love.”

Trump is preparing to give a major address to a joint session of Congress tomorrow evening. He’s expected to kick the campaign to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act into high gear at the joint session.

Today, Trump focused on selling policymakers on points he and other members of his administration have made in the past.

At the gathering for health insurance company CEOs, he promoted efforts to let health insurers sell coverage across state lines, expand the health savings account program, and give states more flexibility.

Another thing Trump may have done at the two events was, possibly, to give hints about who might have a shot at influencing what he thinks about health policy and changing the ACA.

In this video, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump address governors who were in Washington this week for a National Governors Association meeting. (Video: White House/YouTube)

Governors and CEOs

Trump talked to governors about ACA change during a wide-ranging speech directed at attendees who were in town for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Vice President Mike Pence introduced Trump.

Tom Price, Trump’s new Health and Human Services secretary, was in the room. Trump had Price stand up. Trump also cited three Republican governors as sources of health policy advice: Rick Scott of Florida, Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

At the session for health insurance company CEOs, Trump had the CEOs pose with him for a group photo, and then he had all of the CEOs introduce themselves before reporters were shooed out of the office.

Here are the attendees who introduced themselves:

            • Aetna: Mark Bertolini.

            • Anthem: Joseph Swedish.

            • Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association: Scott Serota.

            • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida: Pat Garrity.

            • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina: Brad Wilson.

            • Cigna Corp.: David Cordani.

            • Humana Inc.: Bruce Broussard.

            • Independence Blue Cross: Dan Hilferty.

            • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan: Bernard Tyson.

            • UnitedHealth Group Inc.: Stephen Hemsley.

None of the CEOs identified his company as a health insurance company. Hemsley, for example, identified UnitedHealth as a “diversified health care company.”

Swedish and Hilferty made a point of thanking Trump for his administration’s move to introduce draft regulations aimed at stabilizing the current commercial health insurance system.

When Hilferty thanked Trump, he may have also hinted at who he expects to be the top Trump administration ACA change players going forward.

“We look forward to working with you, Vice President Pence [and] Secretary Price in making sure that we have a sustainable program for years to come,” Hilferty said, according to the White House transcript.


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