WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump while still in France on Friday put pressure on Republican senators to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act as Senate Republican leaders worked to nail down the votes they’ll need next week.
Trump ripped off four tweets aimed at skeptical senators a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) presented his revised draft of a sweeping health care bill to dismantle much of Obamacare, and cut and reduce federal spending on Medicaid.
McConnell cannot lose the support of one more senator in his 52-member Republican caucus after conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and more moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) both said Thursday they cannot support the health care bill.
Before joining French President Emmanuel Macron to review a military parade to celebrate Bastille Day, Trump tweeted: “Republicans Senators are working hard to get their failed ObamaCare replacement approved. I will be at my desk, pen in hand!”
He then put on the pressure, tweeting, “After all of these years of suffering thru ObamaCare, Republican Senators must come through as they have promised!”
He followed with: “So impt Rep Senators, under leadership of @SenateMajLdr McConnell get healthcare plan approved. After 7yrs of O’Care disaster, must happen!”
Then, he gave a nod to the role of Vice President Mike Pence “working hard” and “getting our wonderful Republican Senators” to pass the bill.
The Senate adjourned Thursday evening and will not reconvene until Monday, but McConnell will be working to address the questions and concerns of Republican senators through the weekend, said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate leadership.
McConnell also is expected to try to offer plums in the new bill to capture crucial votes.
In what’s been dubbed the Polar Payoff, for example, the revised bill includes language that would send hundreds of millions of extra federal dollars to Alaska, home state of Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has withheld support for the bill, according to a Bloomberg report.
Meanwhile, Pence on Friday urged state governors to get behind McConnell’s health care bill in a speech at the annual meeting of the National Governors Association in Providence, Rhode Island.
“President Trump and I both believe that governors should have the freedom to design and implement the reforms in health care that will work in you states, and we’re going to fight to make that a reality in Washington, D.C.,” Pence said in a speech to the governors.
But at least two Republican governors at the meeting appeared ready to reject the new bill, a move that would influence the views of the Republicans who represent their states in the Senate.
“The Senate plan is still unacceptable,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in a statement. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) opposed the first Senate health bill and said Friday that he is still reviewing McConnell’s revisions.
Utah Gov. Brian Sandoval said he’s “greatly concerned” about the Medicaid reductions, saying they would be “very hurtful” to people who gained coverage under the program’s expansion. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Utah) opposed the first version and told reporters Thursday he is undecided on the revised bill.
Senate Democrats oppose the new bill. So do some key medical groups, including the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association, representing doctors.
America’s Health Insurance Plans raised concerns about the bill’s provision that allows insurers to sell low-cost skimpier health insurance plans if they also sold a plan with all the currently required benefits.
The insurers association said that measure would further destabilize the individual market and increase costs for those with pre-existing conditions.
“The meat of this bill is exactly the same as it was before, and in some ways, they’ve somehow managed to make it even worse,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).