Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare, has reportedly become an advisor to President Trump as the Republican Party brawls over repealing and replacing Obama’s signature health care law.
Emanuel was seen meeting with Trump in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday in a confab that reportedly lasted 40 minutes, the Washington Post reports.
Also attending the meeting with the President were Vice President Mike Pence, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, presidential adviser Jared Kushner, White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Emanuel, the brother of Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, seems to be one of the few liberals advising the Trump administration as the party wrangles over its plan to attack Obamacare. Emanuel was a top adviser to Obama and helped formulate the law.
Even as he confirmed the meeting, Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer was quick to note that the president and Emanuel have major differences of opinion.
“Obviously, [Emanuel] and the president have some differing views on the best way to make health care affordable and accessible,” Spicer said. “But the president also strongly believes that the health and well-being of the American people shouldn’t always be a partisan issue,” he added.
In an interview from last weekend, Emanuel said he thinks he is “the only person on the Democratic side who, for crazy reasons, they’ve agreed to talk to.”
But Emanuel also revealed that Donald Trump had asked him for a meeting some time ago, even before the inauguration. Indeed, Emanuel already met with Trump once before in December, just after the election.
“I take the president seriously when he says he wants to get everyone in the country covered,” Emanuel said.
In 2014, Emanuel sparked outrage in an article he wrote for The Atlantic in which he claimed he only wants to live to 75 years of age, a comment that again sparked fears that he favored government-run, healthcare “death panels.” Many claims that Obamacare would eventually include “death panels” aimed at refusing medical coverage to older or sicker patients were based on Emanuel’s paper exploring government-funded health care, in which he admitted that resources would be finite and some stark decisions would have to be made.
Emanuel also admitted that many of the Obama’s administration’s claims that the ACA would save money were “lipstick” claims that will never really pan out.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.