BRANCHBURG, N.J. – President Donald Trump urged Senate Republicans on Sunday to “not let the American people down,” as the contentious debate over overhauling the U.S. health care systems shifts to Congress’ upper chamber, where a vote is potentially weeks, if not months, away.
Some senators have already voiced displeasure with the health care bill that cleared the House last week, with Republicans providing all the “yes” votes in the 217-213 count. They cited concerns about potential higher costs for older people and those with pre-existing conditions, along with cuts to Medicaid.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican whose vote will be critical to getting a bill to Trump’s desk and who voiced similar concerns, said the Senate would not take up the House bill.
“The Senate is starting from scratch. We’re going to draft our bill, and I’m convinced we will take the time to do it right,” she said.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, also said the version that gets to the president will likely differ from the House measure. Such a scenario would then force the House and Senate to work together to forge a compromise bill that both houses can support.
Collins also complained that the House rushed a vote before the Congressional Budget Office could complete its cost-benefit analysis.
Eager to check off a top campaign promise, Trump sought Sunday to pressure Senate Republicans on the issue.
“Republican senators will not let the American people down!” Trump tweeted from his private golf course in central New Jersey, where he has stayed since late Thursday. “ObamaCare premiums and deductibles are way up – it was a lie and it is dead!”
Trump has said the current system is failing as insurers pull out of markets, forcing costs and deductibles to rise.
The White House on Sunday scoffed at Democratic claims that voters will punish the GOP in the 2018 elections for upending former President Barack Obama’s law. “I think that the Republican Party will be rewarded,” said Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has threatened that GOP lawmakers will “glow in the dark” over their vote.
The House bill would end the health care law’s fines on people who don’t buy policies and erase its taxes on health industry businesses and higher earners. It would dilute consumer-friendly insurance coverage requirements, like prohibiting higher premiums for customers with pre-existing medical conditions and watering down the subsidies that help consumers afford health insurance.
Major medical and other groups, including the American Medical Association, opposed the House bill. Democrats are also refusing to participate in any effort to dismantle Obama’s law, while some Republican senators – Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – object to cutting Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled.