TRUMP touts health bill at rally.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - KEN THOMAS AND JULIE BYKOWICZ In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Alan Fram of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

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.”

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