Health care bill advances, Trump determined to bring all together

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, March 15, 2017 | AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) — The House Budget Committee has voted to advance the Republican health care bill – a bill vital, whether as written or with revisions, to Donald Trump’s vow to keep his presidential campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Three conservative GOP lawmakers voted against the measure in committee. That’s one vote shy of what would have been needed to deal a damaging and embarrassing — but not fatal — setback to the party’s showpiece legislation. Republican leaders hope to bring it to the full House next week. All Democrats voted against the bill.

Dealing with skepticism from conservatives and moderates alike, the White House is considering changes to the bill that might reassure conservatives, all in an effort to muscle through the GOP-backed health care plan in the House next week. Trump, who is not steeped in policy, has signaled that he’s open to negotiation in his first attempt working with Congress.

“The House has put forward a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, based on the principles I outlined in my joint address, but let me tell you we’re going to arbitrate, we’re going to all get together, we’re going to get something done,” Trump told a Wednesday night rally in Nashville, as supporters waved signs that read “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”

Trump is focused on delivering his “repeal and replace” promise and is likely to be flexible on the fine print dividing moderate and conservative Republicans in the policy fight, said a person familiar with the president’s thinking, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share private discussions.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One Wednesday night after the rally, Trump said he expected to get a health care bill through, adding: “It’s going to get all mixed up and we’re going to come up with something. We always do.

The approach reflects a keen awareness within the White House of how much is riding on the effort. Trump made repealing and replacing his predecessor’s health care law a core campaign promise, although he has acknowledged he was surprised at how complex the task would be. Failing to pass a bill while his party controls both the House and Senate would be a devastating blow to his party and the premise of his presidency — that he was a dealmaker the country needed.

Still, Trump keeps stressing the legislation is far from finished, telling Fox News Wednesday that “We will take care of our people or I’m not signing it, OK, just so you understand. This is very preliminary.”

That approach also has made some allies nervous that the transactional president may be more committed to striking a deal, than passing the legislation as crafted by House Republican Speaker Paul Ryan. A bruising, independent analysis of the bill has underscored the political risks involved for some moderate Republicans. It’s a risk they’re unlikely to take without a commitment from the president.

The White House this week has sought to ease such concerns, launching a full-court press. Trump touted the bill at his rally, saying “the House legislation does so much for you.”

Trump added: “The bill that I will ultimately sign — and that will be a bill where everybody is going to get into the room and we’re going to get it done — we’ll get rid of Obamacare and make health care better for you and for your family.”

A senior administration official said Wednesday that the White House was actively working with members and leadership to push the House bill through. The official called Trump very committed, saying he frequently reminds Republican lawmakers that they all campaigned on repeal and replace.

Republican leaders’ task of striking a balance on a bill that will appeal to both conservative and moderate Republicans is proving difficult. Republicans hold a 44-seat margin in the House with five vacancies, meaning that if every Democrat opposes the measure, as expected, the GOP could lose 21 votes and still pass the bill.

The findings by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that 14 million people would lose health care coverage in the first year alone and 24 million in all by 2026 applied pressure to moderate Republicans wary of being accused in the 2018 mid-term elections of ripping away health insurance.

After the CBO released its findings, House Republicans such as Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Leonard Lance of New Jersey said they couldn’t back the current House plan because it would leave too many people uninsured and they were worried it would not pass the Senate.

But if Republicans try to make improvements to help moderate members, that could alienate conservatives. The White House has been courting about 40 conservative House members who are part of the “Freedom Caucus” and have raised objections to the bill’s use of tax credits — which they liken to another government entitlement — and the timing on curtailing the expansion of Medicaid to states.

GOP Rep Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus that is demanding changes to the bill, said that contrary to claims by GOP leaders that Trump helped craft their bill and fully supports it, the president is open to alterations.

“I think he is looking for amendments to be made to make it better,” Meadows said, adding that he’s been working directly with the administration, not with congressional leadership.

Meadows and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, co-authored an opinion piece published online Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, outlining steps to be taken to repeal the health law.

Republicans, however, do not expect wholesale changes to the bill before it reaches the House floor next week. “I don’t think there’s enough room for him to cut and run from Ryan and do his own deal because the bill sits on a tight-rope,” said former Rep. Thomas Reynolds of New York, a Republican lobbyist. “There’s not a lot of room. They may be able to make some adjustments, but it’s more adjusting about how they cobble together” enough votes to pass the bill.

Written by KEN THOMAS, Associated Press, and CATHERINE LUCEY, Associated Press. AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner contributed to this report. ALAN FRAM, Associated Press, contributed elements on the House Budget Committee’s advancing the health care bill.

Written by BYLINE ALL CAPS, Associated Press. (add in any contributors that are in the AP story as stated on the story, name, affiliation, from where they contributed)

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • comments March 16, 2017 at 10:42 am

    i’m gettin’ a real bad feeling about this donald.

    • .... March 16, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Write a letter to Donald I’m sure he cares what you think. you want a crying towel !

  • Pheo March 16, 2017 at 11:50 am

    He is NOT keeping his promises made both before and after the election:

    “We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” 1/15/17

    “Obamacare has to go. We can’t afford it. It’s no good. You’re going to end up with great healthcare for a fraction of the price. And that’s going to take place immediately after we go in. Okay? Immediately. Fast Quick.” (CSPAN, Timestamp 34:23) 2/19/16

    “Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, ‘No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private.’ But– … I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” – 60 Minutes, 9/27/15

    “We’re gonna come up with a new plan that’s going to be better health care for more people at a lesser cost.” ABC News, 1/25/17

    “There are people who say everybody should have a great, wonderful, private plan, and if you can’t afford that, and there is a percentage, a fairly large percentage that can’t afford it, then those people don’t get taken care of. That’s wrong. We’re going to take care of that through the Medicaid system. We’re going to take care of those people. We have no choice.” Dr. Oz, 9/15/16
    “The new plan is good. It’s going to be inexpensive. It’s going to be much better for the people at the bottom, people that don’t have any money. We’re going to take care of them through maybe concepts of Medicare. Now, some people would say, ‘that’s not a very Republican thing to say.’ That’s not single payer, by the way. That’s called heart. We gotta take care of people that can’t take care of themselves.” CNN GOP Townhall, 2/17-18/16

    “I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” 5/21/15. The Daily Signal.

    But people having to change doctors under Obamacare was the end of the world.

    Taking away people’s healthcare to pay for huge tax cuts for the wealthy is cruel and immoral.

    • .... March 16, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      yeah Pheo ..I’m sure he’s the only politician that’s never kept a promise !

      • Real Life March 17, 2017 at 6:17 am

        5:12 pm. You on an all night bender?

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