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Trump names David Shulkin VA secretary, pledges simultaneous ACA repeal and replace

Trump did not give specifics on what the new healthcare law would include.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

President-elect Donald Trump pledged that Congress would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act soon after Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, becomes secretary of Health and Human Services, Trump said during a news conference Wednesday.

Confirmation hearings for Price reportedly are scheduled to start on January 18, two days before Trump is sworn into office.

"We're going to be submitting as soon as our secretary's approved," Trump said. "It will be repeal and replace, it will be essentially simultaneously, will be on same day. ... It's very complicated stuff, we're going to have a health bill passed."

The new plan will offer coverage that's less expensive and better, he said.

"You're going to be very proud of what we put forth," Trump said. "Obamacare is a complete and total disaster," he said, citing high deductibles and premiums tied to the ACA.

[Also: Trump HHS nominee Tom Price's special interests, connections questioned]

Trump did not give specifics of a new healthcare law, but has said a replacement plan would, as the ACA now does, not exclude Americans who have a pre-existing condition. He has also spoken out against the ACA's individual and employer mandate to get insurance coverage.

Without both in place to ensure healthy, as well as sick individuals, get coverage, insurers would no longer offer plans on the marketplace, experts have said. Insurers such as UnitedHealth and Aetna have already stopped selling plans in numerous states, citing financial losses with the product.

Trump said the easier thing to do would be to let President Obama's signature health law implode in 2017.

"We could be a Chuck Schumer and sit back and criticize," Trump said of the Democratic New York Senator who has been critical of Trump's plan to repeal the ACA. "We don't want to own it politically."

During the news conference, Trump also announced his pick for secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, MD, the current under secretary for Health at the VA.

Trump also said he would involve healthcare providers in his plans for the VA, including Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, who was under consideration for Secretary of the VA.

In December, Trump met with Cosgrove and other CEOs to reportedly discuss privatizing the Department of Veterans Affairs and allowing veterans to get care at hospitals outside of the VA system.

On Wednesday, Trump also said he would initiate new bidding procedures for drug company pricing, causing pharmaceutical stock prices to briefly plunge after those statements.

"We have to have new bidding procedures for drug industries because they're getting away with murder," Trump said. "... We'll save billions of dollars over a period of time."

This was Trump's first news conference since the election.

Watch the full conference here:

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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