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Trump optimistic about prospects for health plan despite opposition

U.S. President Donald Trump smiles during a National

U.S. President Donald Trump smiles during a National Economic Council listening session with small and community bank executives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 9, 2017. Credit: Bloomberg / Kevin Dietsch

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump projected optimism Thursday about the prospects for passage of his bill to replace Obamacare, vowing a “beautiful picture” and downplaying pushback from the conservative wing of his party.

“Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!” Trump tweeted.

“This bill will land on the president’s desk. He will sign it,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer added to reporters.

Some GOP lawmakers and policy groups have said the bill spearheaded by House Republicans is as mandate-laden and intrusive as the Affordable Care Act.

Their resistance comes on top of opposition by Democrats, who say the American Health Care Act will cost too much and cover too few.

Wooing members of his party is shaping up to be Trump’s first major test as salesman-in-chief.

Spicer said the president will continue to host skeptics for “listening sessions” and will travel to promote the three-phase plan. Trump is scheduled to visit Nashville on Wednesday, according to his campaign. Vice President Mike Pence is set to be in Louisville on Saturday.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said the plan won’t pass in the Senate without major changes and urged his House counterparts: “Get it right, don’t get it fast.”

Spicer extended an olive branch to Cotton.

“We’re not jamming this down people’s throat. We’re welcoming ideas and thoughts,” the press secretary said. “ . . . I think Senator Cotton clearly recognizes that the current version of health care that’s out there right now is not sustainable. And so, we welcome his input into the process.”

Spicer did not say how drastically the president would be willing to alter the legislation.

“He believes that this bill encompasses the best of ideas and the best way forward,” Spicer said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released a New York state Department of Health analysis and said the American Health Care Act “places the coverage of more than 1 million New Yorkers in jeopardy and, once fully phased in, would shift more than $2.4 billion in costs onto taxpayers and hospitals each year.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected next week to release its projection of the impact nationwide.

Separately, Spicer condemned WikiLeaks’ release of documents apparently revealing the CIA’s cyberspying techniques.

“There’s grave concern . . . about the release of national security and classified information that threatens and undermines our nation’s security,” Spicer said. “Obviously, he believes that the systems at the CIA are outdated and need to be updated.”

The press secretary also faced questions about whether Trump was under a counterintelligence investigation last year.

The president on Saturday had alleged, without evidence, that former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower. Congressional committees are following up on the claim as part of their investigations into Russia’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

“I’m not aware, I don’t believe” there was an investigation of Trump by the Department of Justice, Spicer said.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said the agency doesn’t comment on internal conversations with the White House and doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of investigations.

Spicer would not detail the nature of Trump’s visit next Wednesday to Nashville or explain why it was being promoted by his campaign rather than the White House.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.


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