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McConnell warns Trump, GOP on health bill failure

Mitch McConnell is delivering an urgent warning to staffers, Republican senators and even the president himself: If Obamacare repeal fails this week, the GOP will lose all leverage and be forced to work with Chuck Schumer.

President Donald Trump continued to float the possibility on Monday that Congress and the White House would simply let Obamacare’s individual markets collapse if the GOP’s repeal effort goes down later this week. But McConnell called up Trump recently, according to people with knowledge of the call, to deliver a reality check.

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Voters expect Republicans to deliver on their long-held promise to repeal the law, McConnell said, according to those people. And failing to repeal the law would mean the GOP would lose its opportunity to do a partisan rewrite of the law that could scale back Medicaid spending, cut Obamacare’s taxes and repeal a host of industry mandates.

Instead, Republicans would be forced to enter into bipartisan negotiations with Democrats to save failing insurance markets.

McConnell delivered a similar warning Monday to Republican senators at his leadership meeting and to top GOP staffers, warning that Democrats will want to retain as much of Obamacare as possible in a bipartisan negotiation, according to Republican aides.

“If we fail, we’re going to be negotiating with [Democratic Leader] Chuck Schumer,” said one Republican staffer.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn is pictured. | AP Photo

McConnell’s motivational words are aimed at reviving support for his bill to repeal the health care law through the party-line reconciliation method this week. GOP leaders are hunting for votes to even start debate on the bill, with at least four Republicans currently opposed to the legislation as written and many more undecided.

Republicans will have a party lunch on Tuesday that will offer a window into the repeal bill’s prospects and potential deal-making to be done.

McConnell still has about $ 188 billion in funds that he could use to shore up the bill’s support by offering Republicans money to fight opioid abuse, as well as several more proposals he could include to attract conservative support, particularly the expansion of health savings accounts to woo the party’s right flank.

The Senate is likely to vote on kicking off floor debate on the bill on Wednesday, though it could occur on Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence will dine with wavering Republican senators on Tuesday night, which could boost the bill’s prospects for a Wednesday vote.

Cory Booker is pictured.

McConnell has told senators for weeks that he fears a failed repeal effort would be followed by a large bailout of the insurance industry that would be supported by moderate Republicans and Democrats, per people familiar with his thinking. And McConnell would be content to not touch Obamacare repeal again if this bill failed.

Trump has repeatedly weighed taking away cost-sharing subsidies and has privately told activists and administration officials that Democrats would own the failure of Obamacare and that it could be a political boon for Republicans.

3 Things on the CBO score of the Senate health care bill

But some of his senior officials believe the White House would take at least some of the blame if markets imploded.

If the bill fails, Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his members would be empowered to negotiate with centrist Republicans to save the flailing markets. A trio of Democratic senators met with some Republicans this spring to discuss a bipartisan proposal to shore up the nation’s health care system, but there are many elements of the GOP’s bill that those Democrats will not support.

“The price of admission for me sitting down with you is I’m not willing to [per capita] block grant Medicaid and eliminate Medicaid expansion,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), recalling her message to those Republicans.

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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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