Not “con­sis­tent with Repub­li­can prin­ci­ples”

Some GOP op­po­nents of Se­nate health care bill see vote de­lay as an ad­van­tage

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Elise Viebeck and Sean Sul­li­van

WASH­ING­TON» Repub­li­can crit­ics of the Se­nate’s lat­est ver­sion of health care leg­is­la­tion were en­er­gized af­ter lead­ers post­poned votes on the mea­sure, yet another sign the bill’s for­tunes are in limbo.

A vo­cal con­ser­va­tive op­po­nent of the mea­sure, Sen. Rand Paul, pre­dicted the de­lay would strengthen crit­ics’ po­si­tion by giv­ing them more time to mo­bi­lize against the bill.

“The longer the bill is out there, the more con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans are go­ing to dis­cover it is not re­peal,” Paul, R-Ky., said Sun­day.

Paul said he spoke with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day and sug­gested the pres­i­dent sup­port re­peal­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act and de­cid­ing the de­tails of a re­place­ment plan later if the lat­est ver­sion of the bill does not pass.

Trump did not com­ment on health care dur­ing the weekend, even as his party faced new chal­lenges in try­ing to ad­vance its lat­est bill. Trump

made no ref­er­ence to health care Sun­day in an an­gry morning tweet­storm about Hil­lary Clin­ton, the Rus­sia con­tro­versy and other top­ics.

The lack of re­sponse from Trump came af­ter Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an­nounced Satur­day he is re­cov­er­ing from a surgery and would be ab­sent from votes, de­priv­ing Repub­li­cans of the sup­port they need to ad­vance the leg­is­la­tion. The de­vel­op­ment tem­po­rar­ily dashed McCon­nell’s hopes of wrap­ping up the health-care de­bate by pass­ing a re­worked ver­sion of the Bet­ter Care Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act this week.

The White House also was largely si­lent about health care over the weekend. “We wish Sen. McCain a speedy re­cov­ery,” He­len Ferre, White House di­rec­tor of me­dia af­fairs, told re­porters Sun­day when asked about the Se­nate de­lay.

The bill ex­pe­ri­enced a sep­a­rate blow Fri­day and Satur­day at a conference of gov­er­nors in Providence, R.I., where, de­spite an en­er­getic lob­by­ing cam­paign, Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials failed to gain sup­port from in­flu­en­tial Repub­li­cans such as Ne­vada Gov. Brian San­doval. Op­po­si­tion from San­doval and oth­ers will make it eas­ier for un­de­cided Repub­li­can sen­a­tors from those states to vote “no” on the bill, po­ten­tially fur­ther en­dan­ger­ing its prospects.

The dif­fi­cult po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­lus fac­ing Repub­li­cans was clear in a new poll re­leased Sun­day show­ing the pub­lic prefers the Af­ford­able Care Act to the Repub­li­can health-care plan by a roughly 2-1 ra­tio. Among Repub­li­cans, 59 per­cent pre­ferred the GOP plan, com­pared with 11 per­cent who pre­ferred the current law.

The bill’s dra­matic cuts to the Med­i­caid pro­gram are a sig­nif­i­cant con­cern for gov­er­nors such as San­doval as well as mod­er­ates such as Su­san Collins, R-Maine.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and other ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials sought to al­lay these fears Fri­day and Satur­day by ar­gu­ing that the health-care bill shores up Med­i­caid’s fi­nances to pre­serve the pro­gram for the fu­ture. They also down­played the pos­si­ble ef­fects of the cuts.

Pence’s speech was crit­i­cized by Democrats, health care ad­vo­cates and even some Repub­li­cans for mis­char­ac­ter­iz­ing the pos­si­ble ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the bill.

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