When bioethicist and oncologist Ezekiel Emanuel met with President Trump at the White House on Monday, the session revealed publicly what has been happening privately for months: A trusted ally of former president Barack Obama and chief architect of the Affordable Care Act is trying to help steer how Republicans take it apart.
With the administration and GOP leaders in Congress working to rewrite the landmark 2010 law — and Democrats displaying little appetite for negotiating with them — Emanuel appears to be one of the only members of his party with a seat at the table.
Monday’s meeting was Emanuel’s third in-person conversation on health policy with Trump since the November election. According to one person familiar with the session, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the private discussion, it took place in the Oval Office and lasted about 40 minutes. Among the others also attending were Vice President Pence, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and the White House National Economic Council director, Gary Cohn.
Details of the conversation were not immediately available. But White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the meeting took place — only days before Ryan hopes to bring the bill to a House vote.
“Obviously, [Emanuel] and the president have some differing views on the best way to make health care affordable and accessible,” Spicer told reporters afterwards. “But the president also strongly believes that the health and well-being of the American people shouldn’t always be a partisan issue,” he said, noting that Trump also has talked about drug prices with Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
In an interview on Sunday, Emanuel recalled how during the ACA’s drafting, Democrats held ongoing discussions with shifting groups of Republican lawmakers, even though no GOP members of the House or Senate…