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Politics Trump Defends Health Care Bill Over Lunch With G.O.P. Senators

02:25  20 july  2017
02:25  20 july  2017 Source:   nytimes.com

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President Trump spoke during a lunch with Republican senators at the White House on Wednesday. Senators Dean Heller of Nevada and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia sat next to Mr. Trump.© Stephen Crowley/The New York Times President Trump spoke during a lunch with Republican senators at the White House on Wednesday. Senators Dean Heller of Nevada and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia sat next to Mr. Trump.

WASHINGTON — President Trump vigorously defended an all-but-dead Senate health care bill on Wednesday, pressing Republicans to stay in Washington and improve the proposal or risk being tagged as supporting the current system, which he called a “big lie.”

At a lunch at the White House with Republican senators, Mr. Trump gave the latest in a series of shifting reactions to the collapse this week of the Senate’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and what amounted to a belated sales pitch for a measure that Republicans have privately complained he has done little to champion.

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Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, abruptly dropped the push to replace the Affordable Care Act earlier this week and instead pressed for a vote on legislation to repeal it without an immediate alternative.

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But the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office underscored why that idea quickly lost traction. The budget office said a bill to repeal without a replacement would increase the number of people without health insurance by 17 million in 2018, a figure that would jump to 27 million in 2020, and then to 32 million in 2026.

Average premiums for people buying individual health insurance policies would increase by about 25 percent next year and 50 percent in 2020. By 2026, premiums would double.

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Mr. Trump has advocated a straight repeal earlier this week, arguing that lawmakers could then take their time to work out a replacement. But Republicans balked.

Now Mr. Trump is urging senators to try to bridge their differences over a replacement plan. That was a stark turnabout from earlier this week, when Mr. Trump said Congress should let President Barack Obama’s signature legislation fail and blame Democrats.

Instead, Mr. Trump said Republicans should get back to work, ignoring clear indications from Capitol Hill that not enough Republicans are willing to support the proposal.

“Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you’re fine with Obamacare,” he said.

It was a pep talk that could have been more effective in the last several days as Republican leaders desperately sought support.

The prospect of repealing the health care law appeared to be doomed on Tuesday when an 11th-hour effort to force a vote on the matter failed and three Republican senators said they would not vote to repeal the law without a replacement.

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Mr. Trump has never been completely engaged with the health care repeal-and-replace efforts after his initial foray with House members in April failed.

He has occasionally cajoled members of Congress, primarily through his Twitter feed, but he has seemed hesitant at best. And his advisers have been divided on how involved he should be, leaving Mr. Trump to weigh in sporadically.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump used a combination of humor and thinly veiled threats to pressure wavering senators.

Sitting beside Senator Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican who has been outspoken about his concerns with the proposal, Mr. Trump said: “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he? O.K., and I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.”

Mr. Trump also alluded to several conservatives who came out against the measure Monday night, saying he had been “surprised” because the senators were “my friends.”

“My friends — they really were and are,” he said. “They might not be very much longer, but that’s O.K.”

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Trump’s final health care pitch makes promises he can’t keep .
As he attempts to close what has been an elusive deal among Republicans on a Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Donald Trump continues to make bold promises about what that bill would do — promises that all available analysis suggests the bill will not keep. Trump made a final-appeal speech on Monday, which was light on policy and heavy on pressuring Republican senators to vote for the bill when it’s expected to come to the floor for a procedural vote on Tuesday. It included one section in which the president gave a small list of how health care would change should the Better Care Reconciliation Act become law. Trump promised the new health care bill would “significantly lower premiums” and “stabilize the insurance market.” He shared horror stories of families who had relied on the Affordable Care Act for coverage but ultimately liquidated a 401(k) retirement account in order to cover their large deductibles. The truth, however, is that the Senate bill will not lower premiums for many people. For low-income Americans, in particular, premiums could rise by as much as 700 percent. Nonpartisan analysis from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate bill would destabilize the individual market. And those plans with large deductibles? They would become more common should the Senate bill become law.

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