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Trump Pushes for GOP Health Votes      06/26 06:07

   Senate Republicans skeptical about a GOP health overhaul bill are expressing 
some doubt about holding a vote this week as they await a key analysis from the 
nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. President Donald Trump, making a final 
push to fulfill a key campaign promise, insists Republicans are not "that far 
off" and signaled last-minute changes are coming to win votes.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Republicans skeptical about a GOP health overhaul 
bill are expressing some doubt about holding a vote this week as they await a 
key analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. President Donald 
Trump, making a final push to fulfill a key campaign promise, insists 
Republicans are not "that far off" and signaled last-minute changes are coming 
to win votes.

   "We have a very good plan," Trump said in an interview aired Sunday. 
Referring to Republican senators opposed to the bill, he added: "They want to 
get some points, I think they'll get some points."

   So far, five Republican senators are expressing opposition to the Senate GOP 
plan that would scuttle much of former President Barack Obama's health law. 
That's more than enough to torpedo the measure developed in private by Senate 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and deliver a bitter defeat for the 
president.

   The holdouts are expressing willingness to negotiate, but many of them are 
pushing revisions that could risk alienating moderate Republicans in the 
process.

   Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said seven to eight additional senators 
including herself were troubled by provisions in the Senate bill that she 
believes could cut Medicaid for the poor even more than the House version. 
Collins, who also opposes proposed cuts to Planned Parenthood, said she was 
awaiting the CBO analysis before taking a final position. But she said it will 
be "extremely difficult" for the White House to be able to find a narrow path 
to attract both conservatives and moderates.

   The CBO cost estimate, including an analysis on the number of people likely 
to be covered, is expected to be released as early as Monday.

   "It's hard for me to see the bill passing this week," Collins said.

   Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., one of the five senators opposing the bill, said 
he also wants to review the CBO score.

   "I would like to delay," he said. "These bills aren't going to fix the 
problem. They're not addressing the root cause," he said, referring to rising 
health care costs. "They're doing the same old Washington thing, throwing more 
money at the problem."

   In the broadcast interview, Trump did not indicate what types of changes to 
the Senate bill may be in store, but affirmed that he had described a 
House-passed bill as "mean."

   "I want to see a bill with heart," he said, confirming a switch from his 
laudatory statements about the House bill at a Rose Garden ceremony with House 
GOP leaders last month. "Health care's a very complicated subject from the 
standpoint that you move it this way, and this group doesn't like it."

   "And honestly, nobody can be totally happy," Trump said.

   McConnell has said he's willing to make changes to win support, and in the 
week ahead, plenty of backroom bargaining is expected. He is seeking to push a 
final package through the Senate before the July 4 recess.

   Addressing reporters Sunday, the Senate's No. 2 Republican said passing a 
health care bill won't get any easier if Republican leaders delay a Senate vote 
on the GOP health care plan. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said there is "a sense 
of urgency" to push forward but acknowledged the outcome is "going to be close."

   He told reporters at a private gathering hosted by the libertarian Koch 
brothers in Colorado that Trump will be "important" in securing the final votes.

   "We're trying to hold him back a little bit," Cornyn said with a smile.

   The Senate bill resembles legislation the House approved last month. A CBO 
analysis of the House measure predicts an additional 23 million people over the 
next decade would have no health care coverage, and recent polling shows only 
around 1 in 4 Americans views the House bill favorably.

   The legislation would phase out extra federal money that more than 30 states 
receive for expanding Medicaid to additional low-income earners. It would also 
slap annual spending caps on the overall Medicaid program, which since its 
inception in 1965 has provided states with unlimited money to cover eligible 
costs.

   Conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he is opposing the Senate bill 
because it "is not anywhere close to repeal" of the Affordable Care Act. He 
says the bill offers too many tax credits that help poorer people to buy 
insurance.

   "If we get to impasse, if we go to a bill that is more repeal and less big 
government programs, yes, I'll consider partial repeal," he said. "I'm not 
voting for something that looks just like Obamacare."

   Trump said he thinks Republicans in the Senate are doing the best they can 
to push through the bill.

   "I don't think they're that far off. Famous last words, right? But I think 
they're going to get there," Trump said of Republican Senate leaders. "We don't 
have too much of a choice, because the alternative is the dead carcass of 
Obamacare."

   Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Democrats have been 
clear they will cooperate with Republicans if they agree to drop a repeal of 
the Affordable Care Act and instead work to improve it. Still, Schumer 
acknowledged it was too close to call as to whether Republicans could muster 
enough support on their own to pass the bill.

   He said they had "at best, a 50-50 chance."

   Trump was interviewed by "Fox & Friends," while Collins, Schumer and Paul 
appeared on ABC's "This Week." Johnson spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press."


(KA)

 
 
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