Tag Archives: health care

‘Breakthrough’ Reached On Short Term Health Care Fix

DENVER (CBS4) – Two key senators say they’ve reached a breakthrough deal on a short term health care fix. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington State hashed out the deal after weeks of hearings by the Senate Health Committee, that included plenty of input from Colorado.
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Senator Michael Bennet is a member of the committee and Governor Hickenlooper was among those asked to testify. They warned the president against cutting subsidies that help insurers cover low income Coloradans. The bi-partisan bill restores the subsidies for two years. “It’s important to understand this is a self-inflicted wound,” said Bennet, “This was not something that ‘Obamacare’ caused. This was caused by the president… and now we are in a bi-partisan way putting it back together again.”
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The goal of the bill is to stabilize the health insurance market. In Colorado, 14 counties have one insurer left on the exchange and premiums are expected to jump nearly 30% next year. Bennet says the bill also gives states more flexibility on some Obamacare mandates, “It creates less bureaucracy and gives states the opportunity to innovate without compromising the essential health benefits.”
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Republicans have been pushing for more state control but, so far, republican leadership has not indicated whether it will support the bill. Senator Alexander says, “The important thing is not that Senator Murray and I agree but that we find consensus with colleagues so we can enact it.” President Trump says he was involved in the compromise, but called it a short-term fix, saying Obamacare is dead, “It’s a concept that doesn’t work and we are very close. We feel we have the votes.” The bill also includes millions of dollars to help enroll people in Obamacare. What remains to be seen is whether the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House will get behind the bill. The ultra-conservative republicans have opposed the subsidies, calling them bailouts for insurers.  

Senators Reach Deal On Resuming Payments To Health Insurers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Key senators reached a breakthrough deal Tuesday on resuming federal payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked. Insurers had warned that unless the money is quickly restored, premiums will go up. At the White House, the president spoke favorably about the bipartisan compromise, which is still likely to face opposition in Congress. The agreement would involve a two-year extension of federal payments to insurers that Trump halted last week, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Unless the money is quickly restored, insurers and others say that will result in higher premiums for people buying individual policies and in some carriers leaving unprofitable markets. Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., have been working for weeks on health care legislation, separate from repeated and unsuccessful efforts by GOP leaders to dismantle Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Emerging from a closed-door GOP luncheon on Tuesday, Alexander said, “Senator (Patty) Murray and I have an agreement,” and added that Trump has encouraged them and the “president likes this idea.” While the agreement is a breakthrough, they still need to secure the support of fellow Republicans and Democrats. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was noncommittal while Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., welcomed the agreement as a step forward that will provide stability for insurance markets in the short-term. Murray hailed the bipartisan effort, saying “when Republicans and Democrats take the time … we can truly get things done” for the American people.
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U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In brief comments at the White House, Trump offered support. “It is a short-term solution so we don’t have this very dangerous little period,” the president said. Murray and Alexander began talks on extending the payments months ago, when Trump was frequently threatening to stop the subsidies. Both had said they were close to a deal, but GOP leaders shut the effort down in September when the Senate revisited the Republican drive to repeal Obama’s law. The repeal effort failed, as did an earlier GOP attempt to dismantle the law in July. Trump’s halt of the payments and worries about its impact have galvanized lawmakers in both parties to take action to prevent it. Even so, strong opposition by some conservatives means the congressional fate of a compromise would be uncertain. For their part, Democrats believe Republicans in control of Washington will be blamed by voters for future health care problems and are reluctant to bend too far toward GOP demands for opening loopholes in Obama’s law. Alexander said Trump has twice in recent days urged him to reach a deal with Murray.
“He says he doesn’t want people to be hurt in this interim,” said Alexander, a reference to Trump’s desire to revisit the effort to scrap Obama’s statute next year. Trump repeated his gloomy assessment of a law that’s expanded health coverage to 20 million people and required insurers to cover specified services and limit costs, but has also seen premiums rise and limited competition in some regions. “Obamacare is virtually dead. At best you could say it’s in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don’t get to use it. Obamacare is a disgrace to our nation and we are solving the problem of Obamacare,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump’s stoppage of the payments “showed that he’s willing to take a wrecking ball to our nation’s health care for the sake of politics.” He said congressional support for an agreement between Alexander and Murray would show lawmakers have “no intention of going along with President Trump’s reckless sabotage of the nation’s health care law.” Under Obama’s 2010 overhaul, the government must pay insurers for reducing out-of-pocket expenses for lower-earning customers. A federal judge has ruled that Congress hadn’t legally approved the payments, but Obama — and initially Trump — continued them anyway. Trump halted them last week, even though by law insurers must continue reducing costs for lower-income consumers. Trump and some Republicans consider the payments to be bailouts to carriers. But Democrats and some Republicans say halting them will create chaos in insurance market places. The so-called cost-sharing reductions cost around $7 billion this year and lower expenses like co-payments and deductibles for more than 6 million people. By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press AP reporter Ken Thomas contributed. (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Trump Issues Warning To McCain After Senator’s Tough Speech

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a warning shot after Republican Sen. John McCain questioned “half-baked, spurious nationalism” in America’s foreign policy. Trump said in a radio interview with WMAL in Washington that “people have to be careful because at some point I fight back.” The president added “I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty.” McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump: “I have faced tougher adversaries.”
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 16: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) makes remarks after receiving the the 2017 Liberty Medal from former Vice President Joe Biden (not shown) at the National Constitution Center on October 16, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

In Philadelphia on Monday night, the six-term Republican senator from Arizona received an award for a lifetime of service and sacrifice to the country. In addition to recalling his more than two decades of military service and his imprisonment during the war, McCain took a moment to go a step further than the night’s other speakers, who lamented what many described as a fractured political climate. “To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” he said, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”
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WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 16: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R), joined by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to the media during a meeting with his cabinet at the White House on October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump will head to Greer, South Carolina to attend a campaign event for Gov. Henry McMaster. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

He continued: “We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.” Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the Liberty Medal. Though members of opposing parties, the two men worked together during their time in the Senate. Former President Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in his bid for the presidency in 2008, congratulated the senator on the award in a tweet Monday night. “I’m grateful to @SenJohnMcCain for his lifetime of service to our country.
Congratulations, John, on receiving this year’s Liberty Medal,” Obama wrote. Pressed on Trump’s threat Tuesday, McCain told reporters he has had tougher fights, and then smiled. Trump said in the radio interview that McCain voted against Republican efforts to dismantle Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He says the vote was a “shocker.” McCain and Trump have long been at odds. During the campaign, Trump suggested McCain was not a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam. By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press

AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

The Latest: Trump Cuts Off Insurers, Rattling Health Market

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s cut-off of federal payments to insurers is jolting the health care and political worlds. It’s threatening to boost premiums for millions and rattle insurance markets. It also could shove Republicans into a renewed civil war over their efforts to shred the Obama health care law. Trump is halting subsidies to companies for lowering costs for low- and middle-income earners — reductions insurers are legally required to make. Defiant Democrats, convinced they have important leverage, are promising to press for a bipartisan deal to restore the money by year’s end. __ Nearly 20 states have filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump over his decision to stop payments that lower health insurance deductibles and co-pays for millions of Americans with modest incomes. Attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts and New York are among those announcing they had filed the lawsuit in federal court in California. Trump said Thursday he would end the cost-sharing subsidies. The attorneys general say Trump is not following federal law in ending a legally mandated system that already is operating. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen says Trump’s action would raise health insurance prices enough that healthier people will flee the insurance markets, resulting in higher costs for those who remain.
Six physician groups are condemning a Trump administration decision to halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law. Their statement Friday calls on Congress to act immediately to restore the payments to prevent what it called “dramatic, if not catastrophic, increases in premiums across the country” and millions of Americans losing coverage. The groups represent more than 560,000 U.S. doctors and medical students. They are the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Osteopathic Association and the American Psychiatric Association. The statement follows an announcement late Thursday. The White House says the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because it lacks formal authorization by Congress.
At least a dozen states plan to sue President Donald Trump over his decision to stop payments that lower health insurance deductibles and co-pays for millions of Americans with modest incomes. Attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts and New York are among those announcing they will file the lawsuit in federal court in California. Trump said Thursday he would end the cost-sharing subsidies. The attorneys general say Trump is not following federal law in ending a legally mandated system that already is operating. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said Trump’s action would raise health insurance prices enough that healthier people will flee the insurance markets, resulting in higher costs for those who remain.
President Donald Trump is defending his decision to halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law. Trump said as he left the White House Friday that the subsidies are “almost a payoff” to insurance companies to lift their stock prices instead of helping low-income people afford their premiums. He says: “That money is a subsidy for insurance companies” and that he doesn’t “want to make the insurance companies rich.” Trump is calling on Democrats to negotiate a deal with him. He says: “What it’s going to do is there’s going to be time to negotiate health care that’s going to be good for everybody.”
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer says “threats and bullying” from President Donald Trump will not force Democrats to repeal the Obama health care law. The New York Democrat tells reporters people will blame Republicans for the pain of Trump’s decision to halt federal payments to insurers. Schumer says blocking those subsidies will cause higher premiums and prompt some insurers to stop selling policies. He says people “know full well which party is doing it.” Schumer says Trump has “a decreased level of trust” with voters and congressional Democrats. He says Trump lacks leverage to force Democrats to make concessions. The Democratic leader says there’ll be a good chance to restore the money in a bipartisan end-of-year spending bill
The health insurance industry says the billions of dollars in “Obamacare” subsidies that President Donald Trump is halting are not a “bailout” that companies are using to line their coffers. America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said in a joint statement Friday that the money goes to doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other service providers to lower copays and deductibles for 6 million consumers. “This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need,” said the statement. “Costs will go up and choices will be restricted.” The industry has been urging Congress to clear up a legal dispute over the money by formally directing the executive branch to make the monthly payments.
A coalition of state attorneys general is planning to file suit Friday to try to block President Donald Trump from stopping billions of dollars in “Obamacare” subsidies for consumers. The office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (hahv-YEHR’ beh-SEH’-rah) says the federal suit will argue that the Trump administration violated a law that requires government agencies to obey existing statutes and follow orderly and transparent procedures. The state officials will also argue that the Trump administration violated the U.S. Constitution’s “Take Care Clause,” which requires the executive branch to faithfully execute laws. The Trump administration announced late Thursday night it’s stopping subsidies for copays and deductibles. The president took to Twitter before dawn Friday to say the Obama health law is imploding and Democrats should call him to make a deal.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending the Trump administration decision to stop making payments to insurers under the Obama health care law. Sessions says on “Fox and Friends” that the Justice Department does not believe the government can spend the $7 billion for insurers because Congress never appropriated it. The subsidies help lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes. The White House said late Thursday that it would stop the payments. That’s expected to trigger a spike in premiums for next year, unless Trump reverses course or Congress authorizes the money. Sessions says courts have found “the appropriation must come from Congress.” He says, “The president cannot do it.”
President Donald Trump is calling the so-called “Obamacare” law a “broken mess” after his move that’s likely to roil insurance markets. Trump tweeted Friday that “piece by piece” his administration will begin the process of “giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!” The White House said late Thursday it would immediately halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law. The subsidies help lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes. Stopping the payments would trigger a spike in premiums for next year unless Trump reverses course or Congress authorizes the money.
President Donald Trump is inviting congressional Democrats to “call me to fix” America’s health care system, as he prepares an order ceasing federal subsidy payments to health insurers. In a pre-dawn post on his Twitter account Friday, the president reiterated his oft-stated argument that “Obamacare is imploding.” Addressing Democrats, he tweeted that “massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!” Since his presidential campaign and nearly nine months in office, Trump has persistently called for getting rid of the 2010 Obama law. His fellow Republicans joined him in that cause, but neither Trump nor the GOP has been able to muster sufficient strength to get the repeal bill through the Senate.
In a brash move likely to roil insurance markets, President Donald Trump will “immediately” halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law he has been trying to unravel for months. The Department of Health and Human Services made the announcement in a statement late Thursday. “We will discontinue these payments immediately,” said acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare administrator Seema Verma. Sign-up season for subsidized private insurance starts Nov. 1, in less than three weeks, with about 9 million people currently covered. In a separate statement, the White House said the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because they lack a formal authorization by Congress.

Trump To Halt Health Insurer Subsidies In New Blow To Obamacare

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a brash move likely to roil insurance markets, President Donald Trump plans to halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law he has been trying to unravel for months. RELATED ARTICLE: Trump Signs Executive Order To Begin Dismantling Obamacare Two people familiar with the decision described the plan late Thursday night, seeking anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The White House said in a statement that the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because they lack a formal authorization by Congress. However, the administration had been making the payments from month to month, even as Trump threated to cut them off to force Democrats to negotiate over health care. The president’s action is likely to trigger a lawsuit from state attorneys general, who contend the subsidies to insurers are fully authorized by federal law, and say the president’s position is reckless. Among the likely consequences: a spike in premiums for next year. The top two Democrats in Congress sharply denounced the Trump plan in a joint statement. “It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America,” said House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi of California and Chuck Schumer of New York. “Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.” Word of Trump’s plan came on a day when the president had also signed an executive order directing government agencies to design insurance plans that would offer lower premiums outside the requirements of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Frustrated over setbacks in Congress, Trump is wielding his executive powers to bring the “repeal and replace” debate to a head. He appears to be following through on his vow to punish Democrats and insurers after the failure of GOP health care legislation. On Twitter, Trump has termed the payments to insurers a “bailout,” but it’s unclear if the president will get Democrats to negotiate by stopping payment. Experts have warned that cutting off the money would lead to a double-digit spike in premiums, on top of increases insurers already planned for next year. That would deliver another blow to markets around the country already fragile from insurers exiting and costs rising. Insurers, hospitals, doctors’ groups, state officials and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged the administration to keep paying. Leading GOP lawmakers have also called for continuing the payments to insurers, at least temporarily, so constituents maintain access to health insurance. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is working on such legislation with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. The so-called “cost-sharing” subsidies defray out-of-pocket expenses for people with low-to-modest incomes, and can reduce a deductible of $3,500 to a few hundred dollars. Assistance is available to consumers buying individual policies; people with employer coverage are unaffected by the dispute. Nearly 3 in 5 HealthCare.gov customers qualify for help, an estimated 6 million people or more. The annual cost to the government is currently about $7 billion. But the subsidies have been under a legal cloud because of a dispute over whether the Obama health care law properly approved the payments to insurers. Adding to the confusion, other parts of the Affordable Care Act clearly direct the government to reimburse the carriers. For example, the ACA requires insurers to help low-income consumers with their copays and deductibles. And the law also specifies that the government shall reimburse insurers for the cost-sharing assistance that they provide. But there’s disagreement over whether the law properly provided a congressional “appropriation,” similar to an instruction to pay. The Constitution says the government shall not spend money unless Congress appropriates it. House Republicans trying to thwart the ACA sued the Obama administration in federal court in Washington, arguing that the law lacked specific language appropriating the cost-sharing subsidies. A district court judge agreed with House Republicans, and the case has been on hold before the U.S. appeals court in Washington. Up to this point the Trump administration continued making the monthly payments, as the Obama administration had done. The round of payments would be due around Oct. 20. A panel of appellate judges recently ruled that a group of states can defend the legality of the subsidies if the Trump administration decides to stop paying. While the legal issue seems arcane, the impact on consumers would be real. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that premiums for a standard “silver” plan will increase by about 20 percent without the subsidies. Insurers can recover the cost-sharing money by raising premiums, since those are also subsidized by the ACA, and there’s no legal question about their appropriation. Consumers who receive tax credits under the ACA to pay their premiums would be shielded from those premium increases. But millions of others buy individual health care policies without any financial assistance from the government and could face prohibitive increases. It’s also estimated that taxpayers would end up spending more to subsidize premiums. Earlier Thursday, Trump had directed government agencies to design a legal framework for groups of employers to band together and offer health insurance plans across state lines, a longstanding goal for the president. © Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

RNC Chairwoman Visits Denver Amid Health Care Fight

By Shaun Boyd DENVER (CBS4) – The Chair of the Republican National Committee says President Trump’s commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare is one of the reasons the RNC is seeing record fundraising in a post-presidential year. Ronna Romney McDaniel made the remarks while in Denver to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The comments came on the same day the president signed an executive order to start unwinding the Affordable Care Act.
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“I was aware this was something the White House was looking at, and I’ve heard it from other senators that they thought it was a great idea,” McDaniel said. The idea is to make it easier for small businesses, trade associations and labor unions to band together across state lines and buy less expensive, less comprehensive policies.
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“Small businesses haven’t had the same leverage as bigger companies,” McDaniel said, “So this is going to give them the opportunity to lower the cost of health care for their employees. It is a great thing and I applaud the president for taking this action.” But, democrats say the bare-bones plan will draw young, healthy people out of exchanges, causing premiums to skyrocket and the marketplace to collapse. Colorado’s Democratic Senator Michael Bennet says the order “will weaken consumer protections, resulting in skimpier plans and higher health care bills for people with preexisting conditions.” Bennet sits on a health committee which is in the process of drafting legislation to stabilize the marketplace.
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McDaniel says more needs to be done, “The president hasn’t given up on repeal and replace and neither has Congress. We still have next year under reconciliation to look at that.” She wouldn’t comment on whether the party would punish lawmakers who voted against the legislation. It could take up to six months for the administration to implement the order. Cabinet agencies will need to write rules and the changes will be subject to public comment. Some democratic attorneys general are also threatening to sue over the order. RELATED: ‘We Are Relieved’: Hickenlooper Reacts To Latest GOP Health Care Failure Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

Trump Signs Executive Order To Begin Dismantling Obamacare

(CBS News) — President Trump on Friday announced he is “starting that process” of repealing and replacing Obamacare with his executive order to unilaterally change some aspects of health insurance coverage. Mr. Trump, surrounded by top administration officials, business leaders and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, in the White House Roosevelt Room, praised his executive order as step towards repealing and replacing his predecessor’s signature health care law. Mr. Trump, stuck with a Republican-led Congress that hasn’t passed a bill to undo Obamacare, announced earlier this week that he is resorting to his “pen” instead. Mr. Trump began to walk out of the room Friday without signing the order, until Vice President Mike Pence reminded him to, used that pen on Friday. “We’ve been hearing about the disaster of Obamacare for so long — in my case, many years, most of it outside in civilian life,” Mr. Trump said. “And for a long period of time since I’ve started running and since I became president of the United States, I just keep hearing ‘repeal and replace, repeal and replace.’ Well, we’re starting that process, and we’re starting it in a very positive manner.” Mr. Trump said the order will cost the federal government “virtually nothing,” and will force insurance companies to start “fighting” to sign people up for care. “But the competition will be staggering,” Mr. Trump said. “Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up, and you will be hopefully negotiating, negotiating, negotiating, and you’ll get such low prices for such great care.” Mr. Trump didn’t back down from his goal of repealing Obamacare and fulfilling a signature campaign promise, despite the GOP-led Congress’ inability to agree on how to do that. Mr. Trump said he will “pressure” Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, “once and for all.” “Well, this is promoting healthcare choice and competition all across the United States,” Mr. Trump said. “This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for, and they’re going to be very happy. This will be great health care.” The president’s executive order is intended to make lower-premium plans more widely available. Mr. Trump has long talked about his desire to make health insurance plans available across state lines. His order directs Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to consider expanding access to association health plans, which could possibly allow American employers to form groups across state lines, according to the White House. The order could also allow employers in the same line of work to join together to offer health care to employees, no matter their state. The president’s order, according to the White House, also directs the Labor Department, Treasury Department, and Health and Human Services Department to consider expanding coverage for short-term, limited duration plans that could be made available to people in specific circumstances, like if a person loses his job or misses the open enrollment deadline. But the president’s executive order is likely to face backlash from medical groups, and could very well face a legal challenge.

Former President Barack Obama was criticized heavily by Republicans in 2014 when he said, I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” a nod to his intention to use executive action when Congress wouldn’t cooperate. © 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.