Trump Promises "Generous, Kind" Health Care Reform

Marie Harrington
June 20, 2017

iI the White House's Cabinet Room, President Trump speaks before the lunch with, from left, Sen.

President Donald Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House-passed health care bill is "mean" and urged them to craft a version that is "more generous", congressional sources said.

Rank-and-file Republicans, including Lindsey Graham of SC and Jeff Flake of Arizona, say they don't know what's in an emerging Obamacare replacement that's been under negotiation since the House passed its version in early May. It was a startling slap at legislation that was shepherded by Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and whose passage the president lobbied for and praised.

And certainly if one overlooked the dozen or so hearings and the more than 30 bipartisan meetings that then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus held, or the months he spent trying to work out a bipartisan bill with ranking member Chuck Grassley, or the bill's month-long markup, during which some 160 GOP amendments were accepted, or the many House hearings, or the attention paid to the Congressional Budget Office's cost analysis, or the more than a year it took from the first big meeting to the bill's final passage, one might nearly believe that to be true. Republican conservatives and moderates are divided as to what should be included in the bill.

Alexander moved to cut her off, saying: "You passed the ACA in the middle of a snowstorm with 60 votes and crammed it down the throats of Republicans". Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still targeting a vote before the July 4 recess, even if there are only 14 working days left. "Insurers have made clear the lack of certainty is causing 2018 proposed premiums to rise significantly", House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said Thursday, arguing that Congress should step in.

Their descriptions of Trump's words differed slightly.

The sources say the president did not say what aspects of the bill he was characterizing.

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The White House said on Tuesday it wouldn't comment "on rumors about private conversations that may or may not have happened".

Negotiations this week have centered on the Affordable Care Act's individual marketplaces, including a proposal that would allocate billions in funding to smooth over the transition to a new model should the ACA repeal succeed, The Wall Street Journal reported (sub. req.).

"Americans won't forget that @HouseGOP passed a "mean" bill to rip healthcare from millions then celebrated @ the WH", Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) tweeted.

The measure's final version reflected a compromise by conservative leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and centrist Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J. He would also remove some of the state waiver authority on coverage and pre-existing conditions that was added to win House support from its most conservative members.

The GOP, however, still seems more motivated to solve a problem that does not exist - saving a health-care system supposedly on the path to inevitable collapse by repealing and replacing Obamacare. It was done behind closed doors, Republicans said. "Many of you are here because you pledged to cast this vote".

Mr. Trump's comments were described by people who received accounts of a White House lunch the president had Tuesday with 15 GOP senators.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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