By Scott Wong - 01-26-17 14:54 PM EST
PHILADELPHIA - President Trump on Thursday acknowledged to a roomful of congressional Republicans that there is a political "risk" to gutting ObamaCare, and that he contemplated leaving the healthcare law alone for two years.
Trump then said that Republicans must quickly repeal and replace the law to prevent it from imploding, but his doubts were striking given that Hill Republicans, for the past seven years, have made it their top mission to roll back ObamaCare.
Trump twice mentioned how repealing ObamaCare would take the political heat off of Democrats and put it on the GOP.
"I actually talked with Paul [Ryan] and the group about just doing nothing for two years, and the Dems would come begging to do something because '17 is going to be catastrophic price increases, your deductibles are through the roof, you can't use them, and they will come to us," Trump said at annual GOP retreat in Philadelphia.
"Except we have one problem: We have to take care of the American people immediately. So we can't wait.
"But every time they tell you about Obamacare, we're taking them out of a big jam, big jam. We're putting ourselves at risk to a certain extent because we're taking it off their platter," Trump continued. "But I think congressmen, we have no choice, we have no choice, we have to get it going.
"If we waited two years, it will explode like you've never seen an explosion."
Trump's address to House and Senate lawmakers came less than a week after his inauguration, and as congressional Republicans engage in a lively debate over how exactly and how quickly they should replace key elements of Obamacare once they repeal it.
Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, Trump did not take any questions from GOP lawmakers. But he briefly worked a rope line and huddled backstage with GOP leaders after the roughly 25-minute speech that was interrupted by several standing ovations.
Trump also set some high expectations for lawmakers, declaring at the outset that the 115th Congress will be the "busiest" in decades - or perhaps in history.
This Congress is going to be the busiest Congress we've had in decades, maybe ever," Trump said.
Later Thursday afternoon, GOP lawmakers were slated to hear from Vice President Mike Pence, British Prime Minister Theresa May and NFL champ Peyton Manning.