At the risk of sounding like an enormous understatement, Donald Trump is an unusual presidential candidate.
While it is his unconventional behavior that elicits the greatest fascination, his stances or lack of stance on major issues bring the most discomfort to many conservative leaders.
No issue better reflects the unease conservatives have with Trump than health care. As House Speaker Paul Ryan tries to push a GOP alternative to Affordable Care Act, Republicans are hardly confident that their party’s standard bearer will be on board.
In fact, up until this point, many of Trump’s pronouncements on health care issues have been in direct contrast with that which is typically expected of Republican candidates.
While Trump’s opponents tried throughout the Republican primaries to woo conservative voters by espousing hard-right positions on Social Security and Medicare, Trump vowed to protect the programs from cuts, guaranteeing future retirees the same level of benefits that current ones enjoy.
Ryan’s proposed health care plan would raise the age for Medicare eligibility to 67, a measure that Trump, given his past rhetoric, seems unlikely to endorse.
It is less than clear how Trump will respond to other parts of Ryan’s plan, but he has made statements in the past that suggest he will not embrace them. The Ryan plan would scrap the individual insurance mandate, which Trump has spoken favorably of in the past, before backtracking.
And while Trump has not specifically denounced Ryan’s proposal to turn Medicaid into a block grant program, he has said that he supports maintaining the expansion of Medicaid offered to states by the ACA.
As is the case in a number of policy arenas, how Trump would actually address health care as president is anybody’s guess. His ambiguous stance is frustrating to Republicans, who hoped to make opposition to Obamacare a central part of their case against Hillary Clinton.