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Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs chief operating officer who is now the chief economic adviser to President Donald Trump, is working on a variety of economic matters for the president, according to a new profile of his role, but also a big health-related issue: the repeal of Obamacare.
According to a profile of Cohn’s first few weeks in the White House from The New York Times’ Kate Kelly, Cohn not only has taken a large role in the new administration when it comes to matters such as job growth and regulation but has also been involved in the Trump administration’s plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare.
Cohn – a longtime Democrat – has had meetings with Republicans leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who is the head of the House Financial Services Committee, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy about the replacement bill, according to the report.
During his career at Goldman Sachs, Cohn did not have a job related to healthcare; he instead worked in mortgages and commodity trading before becoming CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s right-hand man. Though Cohn lacks direct health-policy experience, the ACA does contain significant tax and economic elements to which Cohn could bring expertise.
The Times report said Cohn was also considering noneconomic statutory parts of the law as well – citing such provisions as one that allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26 and another regarding special enrollment periods that allow people to sign up for ACA-based exchange plans outside the two-month open-enrollment period.
Cohn is also working with a “healthcare specialist” on the Obamacare plan but did not specify the role of that person, the report said.
The insight gives a sense of the leadership involved in the Republican crafting of a replacement plan. While two plans have been introduced by GOP lawmakers during this legislative session, a complete, cohesive replacement has not yet been put forward by the GOP leadership.
The report makes no mention of newly confirmed Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who Trump during a press conference in January said was involved in the crafting of a replacement. Reports have refuted that characterization, saying the administration was keeping Price away from the replacement planning process so as not to have a conflict between his proposal and the administration’s work during his confirmation hearings.
Price himself would not confirm that he was working with the president on Obamacare during his confirmation testimony to the Senate Finance Committee.
It is unclear what Price’s role will be in the replacement process now that he has been confirmed.
Both the House and the Senate approved a budget resolution in January that would allow Republicans to repeal large swaths of the ACA that affect the federal budget; however, numerous procedural steps would still be needed to repeal the law.