TRUMP touts health bill at rally.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is seeking support beyond Washington before making an in-person pitch on Capitol Hill to fulfill his campaign promise to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Trump rallied supporters Monday night in Louisville, Ky., alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., after meetings and phone calls in Washington aimed at steadying the legislation designed to erase President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Trump planned to court House Republicans today.
“We want a very big tax cut but cannot do that until we keep our promise to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump told the crowd of thousands in Louisville. “This is our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare. It’s a long-awaited chance. We’re going to do it.”
At the White House on Monday, the president met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an architect of Obama’s health care law and the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as Obama’s first chief of staff.
On Thursday, the House is expected to vote on the health care bill.
Trump’s aides and congressional Republicans spent the weekend trying to woo conservatives and moderate House members who have questioned the health care plan.
Some conservatives have pushed for a more complete repeal of Obama’s law, including its requirement that policies cover a long list of services, which they say drives up premiums. They also complain that the GOP bill’s tax credits create an overly generous benefit the federal government cannot afford.
Moderate Republicans, meanwhile, have said the tax credits are too limited and would hurt low-earners and older patients. They also worry the plan would leave too many people uninsured, pointing to a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analysis that estimated 24 million people would lose coverage over 10 years.
Late Monday, top House Republicans released proposed amendments aimed at providing more help for older people, curbing Medicaid and accelerating the repeal of some tax increases.
The bill would let people deduct more medical costs from taxes. It also would repeal many tax increases from the Affordable Care Act this year instead of in 2018.
Older and disabled Medicaid recipients would get more generous benefits, but states could impose work requirements on the program.
Trump suggested at the rally that he wasn’t wedded to the current version of bill.
“We’re going to negotiate. And it’s going to go to the Senate and back and forth,” he said, assuring that the “end result is going to be wonderful and it’s going to work great.”
The rally Monday night took the president to the home state of one of the most outspoken critics of the plan, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. The senator, who was re-elected last year, has dismissed it as “Obamacare lite” and asserted that the bill had no chance of becoming law.
Paul was not attending the rally, saying he planned to fly back to Washington to continue building a coalition to defeat the plan.
Trump said at the rally that he hoped Paul would come onboard.
“I happen to like a lot Sen. Rand Paul. I do,” Trump said. “He’s a good guy. And I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed, in some form, so that we can pass massive tax reform, which we can’t do until this happens. So we gotta get this done.”