Trump prods Republican senators to work harder on healthcare reform

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 14, 2017 8:43 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump prodded Republican Senators on Friday to work harder to make good on their promise to repeal Obamacare after the latest Republican healthcare plan ran into significant opposition that threatened to doom the proposal.

Writing on Twitter from Paris, where he was a guest of honor in Bastille Day celebrations, Trump said Vice President Mike Pence was working to advance the healthcare plan "and getting our wonderful Republican Senators to do what is right for the people."

"After all of these years of suffering thru Obamacare, Republican Senators must come through as they have promised," Trump wrote.

Senate Republican leaders released a revised plan on Thursday to dismantle the Obamacare law, but it drew criticism from senators on both sides of the political divide within the Republican party, indicating a treacherous path for the bill.

The bill played to the party's disparate factions by letting insurers sell cheap, bare-bones policies while retaining taxes on the wealthy.

But the immediate outcry illustrated the difficult political terrain that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must navigate. He is under pressure from Trump to pass a healthcare bill and make good on Republicans' seven-year mission to gut the signature legislation of Democratic former President Barack Obama, the Affordable Care Act.

"The American people deserve better than the pain of Obamacare. They deserve better care. And the time to deliver that to them is next week," McConnell said.

In addition to the criticism from some senators, a major hospital association and one large insurer said the measure falls short in critical areas.

With Democrats united against it, McConnell cannot afford to lose more than two Republican senators to win passage. But moderate Susan Collins and conservative Rand Paul voiced opposition to even bringing the new plan up for debate.

Several senators, including Shelley Moore Capito, Rob Portman and John McCain, had concerns about the legislation and particularly its Medicaid cuts.

And two other Republican senators, Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, complicated matters by announcing an alternative plan.

McConnell, a skillful tactician who was forced two weeks ago to scrub a planned vote on an earlier version opposed by both moderates and hard-line conservatives in his party, has planned for a vote on the retooled bill next week.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Bernadette Baum)